If there were any question that we were in an age of casual dining and lounging, in which the eye wants splashes of modern color, Fearing’s recent interior re-model is a reminder. The remodel was achieved by the same design firm, Johnson Studio, which was responsible for the original design 10 years ago.
“Because Fearing’s has become so iconic, we wanted to leave the basic bones, but refresh it and bring it more current to 2017,” says Juliana Kerschen, a lead interior designer with Johnson Studio. “Freshen it up and make sure it was up to date.”
And so the custom curtain in the walkway between the Rattlesnake Bar and dining room is deep velvet with an ombré effect. Deep plum and wine tones on the Live Oak Patio’s new furniture add warmth and draw you in. “There’s a little bit of a modern touch to each zone,” Kerschen says.
Elsewhere, they’ve incorporated rich blues into the spaces—cobalt and royal blue shades that marry with the existing charcoal. Settees and a hand-tufted rug in the main dining room incorporate the tones, and the new counter stools at the chef’s table sport blue metal frames—a modern flair for pieces with classic rattan backs. The lounge at Fearing’s—that sort of antechamber that always seemed like an awkward hallway—has been made more conducive to sitting and having cocktails and small plates.
A number of restaurants have recently redone their interiors. Nonna and Oak come to mind. The 10-year mark is an intuitive time to refresh a look. But diner’s habits have also changed; the remodels offer reflections of new impulses in the dining scene. Kerschen says she’s seeing a trend towards restaurants incorporating more communal tables, more lounge and cocktail spaces that might accommodate overflow from the bar. “People are more open to casual dining spaces,” she says. “They want to feel comfortable. Ten years ago, maybe [diners wouldn’t be as] open to sitting and having small plates. Now they want to be comfortable and sort of claim that space. People are I think now more open to sitting and dining next to someone they don’t necessarily know.”
I see it not just as a savvy business move—more cocktail spaces, more diners—but also as a hint at a Millennial generation coming up and making their preferences speak.