What's Behind a Coffee Shop?

We were very happy recently to be selected as the architects for a new coffee shop that went into Silver Spring this summer called Mankira Coffee.

Many people would think that a coffee shop is a fairly straightforward endeavor. Simple enough process, grind quality beans, use good equipment, and hire great people and you’re on your way. But you need one very important thing before you can sell your first cup of coffee, a building permit.

The basic building permit is pretty straightforward, typical occupant load, number of restrooms, egress path of travel. Basic life safety issues.

The Health Department can be a little but more nuanced in deciding number and location of sinks, etc.

Our local Water Utility became the most difficult to deal with. WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission)

Grease Traps or Interceptors were the big issue. The science of sizing grease traps can be a bit confusing. Though it seems as if it should be scientific. First you need to figure out if your foods will produce FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) You will also need to decide if you are using a Volume Based or a Flow Based Interceptor. WSSC 1003.1 gives some direction in this regard for people working in Montgomery County MD.

After dealing with the DPS (Department of Permitting Services, The Health Department, and WSSC, we could finally get down to some architecture.

The fun part of this building type is working a fairly complex operation into a tight space, with a fully visible food prep area and a customer flow that needs to be directed without being constraining. On top of that we needed to incorporate some cool graphics that not only create their brand, but make the space a pleasant place to have a cup of coffee.

Client Stories: Polished Concrete Floors

This post is the first in what will be a series dedicated to “Client Stories.” We sat down with one of our regular clients last week to discuss a few of the projects we’ve worked on together. We wanted to get some insight about the client’s memories of some of the projects we did together and see what lessons she learned that might be passed on to future clients.

The first project we discussed was the DC Contemporary Renovation, specifically the polished concrete floor in the basement.

MGA: Why did you decide to do the basement floor in polished concrete?

Client: The existing basement had a 7’ ceiling height, and we were increasing that to 8’. We had to remove the floor, excavate and then pour a slab anyway, so we thought polishing that slab into a finished surface made sense.

MGA: Are you happy with that decision?

Client: I love the floor! It’s easy to maintain, it’s easy to clean. The polishing process was quite messy though. Lots of water, lots of noise.

MGA: How did you choose the color?

Client: There were two options. We could have added a color into the concrete mixture before it was poured and we would have had a consistent color throughout the whole floor. The other option was to pour the slab, then stain it after it was polished. We went this route because it gave the floor more character.  You see more texture and there would be some lighter spots and some darker spots. We did a test patch for the color first, because we used a few different colors to get the final look we wanted.

MGA: Would you do anything different knowing what you know now?

Client: I would definitely do radiant heat next time. The floor is perfect in summer but it’s cold in the winter.