A Restaurant with Southern Charm Is Created in a Former White Box Space

restaurant in a former white box space
A playful sky motif with a cloudy mural accentuates the back wall, and dainty drop pendant lighting fixtures add a modern farmhouse aesthetic.

Since capturing the hearts (and appetites) of Portlanders with her popular Mae pop-up, Chef Maya Lovelace, along with co-owner Zach Lefler, has found a permanent home for the cult-like following her fried chicken and Southern charm has drummed up. Located in the appropriately named Jane Dough building in the up-and-coming Cully neighborhood of Portland, Ore., Yonder elevates the fast-casual pace its pop-up predecessor perfected with a take-out/dine-in hybrid restaurant experience.

Looking to reflect the client’s Southern roots and upbringing in North Carolina where she learned traditional Appalachian cooking by the side of her grandmother Mae, designers Oculus Inc. and Meagan Geer Designs implemented layered branding and graphic treatments to the interior with wall treatments and beacons punctuating the space. Abundant natural light floods the front of the space and is accentuated by a cheerful color palette of forest greens, sunshine yellows and pale blue. Lovelace’s penchant for compelling storytelling is reflected by the haint blue color, a nod to the classic porch ceilings in the South, meant to ward off evil spirits and blend in with the sky. A playful sky motif with a cloudy mural accentuates the back wall, and dainty drop pendant lighting fixtures add a modern farmhouse aesthetic.

A classic felt menu board at the counter helps hungry guests order some of the area’s best fried chicken and grab a seat at the quirky breeze-block bar.

One of the biggest challenges faced when completing this project was achieving high-value impact in a white box space on a limited budget. Designers were tasked with taking the existing 2,200-square-foot space (which had previously been home to a bakery) and creating a restaurant that features counter-service ordering in front and a private dining haven toward the back. A classic felt menu board at the counter captures the attention of hungry guests, where they can order some of the area’s best fried chicken and grab a seat at the quirky breeze-block bar or make their way to one of the restaurant’s 36 seats at various custom round and rectangular oak tables and comfy banquette, which wraps the dining room.

BEFORE: One of the biggest challenges was achieving high-value impact in a white box space on a limited budget.

The interior, branding, and graphics meld together seamlessly into a singular narrative (as illustrated by a brass chicken drumstick inlaid in the concrete floor at the entry) and a “Grandma Wall”—a heartfelt tribute lined with portraits of friends’ and staff’s grandmothers—helps direct guests past the kitchen to the common restrooms.

BEFORE PHOTO: Oculus Inc.

AFTER PHOTOS: Dina Avila Photo

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