Good Food by Ferneau is chef Donnie Ferneau’s latest culinary venture—a restaurant on a mission to transform the way Arkansans eat. However, before he could get down to business, designer Brittany Atkinson had to complete a transformation of her own, turning the Main Street Argenta restaurant into a space as simple and beautiful as the fare served.
>>THE DESIGN IDEA
Formerly home to Argenta Market, the building was primed for food service even before the redesign, with deli cases, a workable kitchen, and plenty of seating space. Running with the space’s existing diner-like feel, a colorful palette of food offerings, and a desire—shared by Ferneau and his business partner Donna Barnett—to create a simple and beautiful space, Atkinson, who is the director of interiors at WILLIAMS & DEAN envisioned a place where foodies, health enthusiasts, and regular Joes alike could come together for dinner, drinks, or an afternoon snack. The design of the restaurant is unified by a palette based in black and white with strategic pops of bright colors and repetitive graphic motifs.
>>THE SPACE PLANNING
Three zones were created: a dining room, a custom-built bar area, and a lounge space. “The bar is meant to be the hub of the restaurant and its design is a dance between casual and sophisticated,” Atkinson says. The scheme features subway tile alongside glamorous tufted barstools and modern light fixtures, for a high/low mix.
Separate from this hub are the dining area—where diners post the number they receive at checkout and wait for their meal to be delivered—and the lounge area. “The lounge area is the most visible from Main Street, so we wanted to make it really inviting,” Atkinson says. Convertible sofas, easy-to-clean commercial carpet, and acrylic tables that don’t distract from the flooring’s graphic pattern come together to achieve the welcoming feel. Additionally, the restaurant’s logo—designed by Cranford Co.—is prominently displayed, adding a burst of color.
Beyond that, the existing kitchen was opened up to allow customers to see where their food is made and also give the chefs an opportunity to interact with customers. Deli cases offer prepared foods you can take home, and a chalkboard menu lists daily selections for dining in the restaurant.
>>THE RESTAURANT CONCEPT
“You need to eat everyday, so why not eat healthy?” Ferneau asks. “Plus, all of our food tastes like cheat food,” he laughs. The idea of providing healthful foods that are easily accessible and readily available —including menu options for diabetics, people with heart conditions, and those facing other health challenges—had appealed to the chef since his days at his former Hillcrest restaurant, Ferneau.
To test his new concept, Ferneau operated for a time out of a local church and, seeing the response, soon started looking for a more permanent, dedicated space for the restaurant.
While the black-and-white-meets-brights palette sets the tone for the space, it’s the accent motifs that bring the design to life. For example, the diner-style inspiration manifests itself in chrome finishes and neon signs. Perhaps even more notable are the circles and spheres present throughout the restaurant. The dining room’s chair backs have circular cutouts, a shape repeated in the globe-style lights over the bar area and the enhanced Os in the logo design. While subtle, these details work together for a beautifully orchestrated result. “It’s the kind of place where you can bike to lunch, or later in the day put on your pumps and do dinner. This space lets the food be the star,” says Atkinson of the completed design.
Interior design Brittany Atkinson, NCIDQ, ASID, WILLIAMS & DEAN Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 224-1900, williamsdean.com
Accessories, carpet, furniture, lighting—decorative, millwork design and mirrors Brittany Atkinson, NCIDQ, ASID, WILLIAMS & DEAN Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 224-1900, williamsdean.com
Bar equipment Krebs Brothers Restaurant Supply, North Little Rock, (501) 687-1331, krebsbrothers.com
Flooring—stained concrete and painting—decorative Phinality Design, North Little Rock, (501) 349-4196, phinalitydesign.com
Furniture—dining tables and stools AIMCO Equipment Company, Little Rock, (501) 228-0808, aimcoequipment.com
Lighting—general and track Premier Lighting Group, Little Rock, (501) 753-6599, premier-ltg.com
Tile Acme Brick, Tile & Stone, Fort Smith, (479) 782-7974, North Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Russellville, (479) 968-6900, acmebricktileandstone.com