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Project Highrise – July 2015 Architect’s Notes

You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.
Anthony Bourdain

An NPC’s gotta eat

In this month’s Architect’s notes, we’ll examine the ins and outs of building and maintaining your tower’s restaurants.

The people moving about in your tower in Project Highrise are going to be a pretty diverse group. They’ll have different daily schedules and routines based on where they live or work, coming and going at various times of day. As individuals, they’ll have an equally diverse set of needs, but there’s one thing that pretty much everyone in your tower will want to do at some point – eat.

The lobby food court of a small tower. Click on the image for a larger view.

Office workers might seek out a cup of coffee and a quick bagel on their way to work. After a few hours hard at work, they’ll want some lunch. And what afternoon is complete without a coffee run? When people that live in your building’s apartments and condos come home from work, there’s a chance they might want to go unwind over a good meal and a glass of wine. Then there are those that might be home all day – retirees, students, a stay-at-home parent or someone working from their home office. They might be looking for a change of scenery by heading for a cafe for a few hours.

sss-72515-cafe sss-72515-hotbar
On the left is a cafe where office workers can grab a quick pastry and coffee in the morning or stop by for an afternoon break. On the right is a hot-bar restaurant waiting for the lunch rush with tasty Thai or maybe burrito fixings.

They’re also creatures of habit, these denizens of your tower. After a few mornings of the same cup of coffee or a few lunches enjoying a particularly satisfying salad, that cafe or salad shop might become a favorite – a place that they will prefer over others. Restaurants like regulars and regulars like the comfort of knowing that the tuna sandwich at their favorite deli is waiting for them. The more regulars that a restaurant has, the more satisfied they’ll be with your tower.

And if they suddenly find their favorite cafe or lunch counter overrun, with lines stretching out the door? That will make them upset. Doubly so if it’s one of their favorite places. It’s your job to make sure that the gastronomic guts and infrastructure of your tower are in harmony with the needs and desires of your tower dwellers.

sss-72515-rest-wkrs-female sss-72515-rest-wkrs-male

If you find workers regularly complaining about lunch lines or coffee crowds, it might be time to welcome a new restaurant into your tower. When that new restaurant first opens, you might find that it quickly gets mobbed. New restaurants are exciting, right? People will go check them out and if they like what’s on offer, it might become a new favorite go-to place.

Each restaurant will contribute to your restaurant score. You’ll need to maintain and improve that if you want to attract tenants that will pay higher rents. A posh steakhouse will contribute a lot more to your culinary standing than a food court cheesesteak stand. Consequently, the steakhouse will also be a lot needier. You’ll need a clientele that can support a steakhouse. That means you need a population of office workers and residents that will go there regularly. You’ll also need to attract diners from outside your building. Swank shops, fancy art and great lobbies can help get people in the door.

But there’s a downside to restaurants as well. In addition to tasty morsels, restaurants also produce a host of undesirable side effects. People in your tower will want restaurants to be convenient, just not too convenient.

It’s nice to walk by and smell some freshly baked bread. But would you like to have the bakery pumping that smell into your home everyday at 5 am? Ever walked by the dumpster behind a restaurant on a hot summer day? It’s not a great smell and not something that is likely to make a restaurant’s neighbors happy. The roar at the bar when the home team scores late in the game to cap a comeback is intoxicating to everyone seated at the bar. If it’s next to your home and at 1 in the morning, you might not enjoy it as much.

All of the traffic and coming and going will do more than just disturb those nearby, it can cause problems and physically damage your building that you’ll have to attend to before your tenants notice and complain.

To the growing list of duties that you’ll need to attend to as building developer and manager, you can add restaurateur. From a small take-out joint selling pre-made sandwiches to a gourmet, chef-driven gourmet destinations, restaurants will be the backbone of your vertical culinary empire. Your tower will not be able to reach for the stars without a balanced, profitable portfolio of restaurants.