All of the pictured restaurants are a product of JFD Studio.
top to bottom: Bread Alone in Kingston, Mama’s Boy Burgers
in Tannersville, Phoenicia Diner Lounge in Phoenicia.
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF JFD STUDIO
Architect Joseph Foglia, owner of JFD Studio based in Brooklyn and part-time resident of the town of Olive, is no fan of design trends, particularly when it comes to restaurants.
Foglia, who has two decades of experience in the field, believes that the places people gather to eat should be designed with intention, not an adherence to what is hot. He recently designed Fruition Chocolate’s space in Woodstock, brought a retro elegance to the Phoenicia Diner lounge in Phoenicia and is well underway with a wave of redesigns on all of the area’s Bread Alone outposts. We had a few questions for Foglia about contemporary restaurant design, especially in the Hudson Valley.
EHV: From a designer’s perspective, why do you think certain restaurants succeed?
Joseph Foglia: Really the success of a restaurant is dependent upon the owner’s sensibilities. The designer is a part of the process, but at the end of the day, once everything is completed and the doors are ready to open, the owner is left with this thing they need to sell. And because of that, the food and service should lead the experience. Successful design is creating a place that allows people to connect with each other. It should not be a place where people are distracted by their surroundings, but a place where people can share a meal, a conversation and maybe a first kiss.
EHV: Talk about your approach to restaurant design and how you work with the client/owner?
JF: Designing a restaurant is super intimate—it gets very personal and can be very stressful. I ask a ton of questions and I feel we, as architects, have to extract from the client this dream they have in their head. We extract from them something that they often don’t know how to articulate. But this process allows them to engage with the architecture. We give them homework assignments, like tell me about the last pair of shoes you purchased. This information helps me get a handle on, not so much issues of style, but intention.
EHV: How is designing a restaurant in NYC a different animal than designing a restaurant in the Hudson Valley?
JF: Well there is a certain amount of money thrown at restaurants in NYC and there is expectation around the dining experience, as well as fierce competition. In the Hudson Valley, most owners are looking for a certain upstate thing that mirrors the history and feel of the area. Both demographics as well as the general feel of the place determine this. As architects, we want to use materials that are indigenous and familiar to the area, and everything we do has to fit the landscape and vernacular of the area. In NYC there is a theatrical aspect to a lot of the work, whereas Hudson Valley eateries need to reflect the history and character of the area. —E. Steinman