When the Lomasney family decided to open their second Slapfish restaurant, they picked the corner of Arrow Road and William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island as the perfect location. Nestled in the heart of a tourist mecca, the corner is every restaurant owner’s dream with high automobile traffic counts in addition to the pedestrian traffic from a neighboring bike path. The challenge was that the corner was occupied by an old convenience store that had been abandoned for years. The forty-year-old building was often described by locals as an eye-sore and many thought the building was a “tear-down.” Fortunately, the Lomasney family chose a team of builders and architects that thought differently. The Court Atkins Group and Fraser Construction have a long history of working together and not only did they take on the challenge of the renovation, they created a modern restaurant space that embodies the Slapfish mantra of combining fine dining with casual comfort. “The adaptation of an existing gas station was an incredibly unique project,” stated lead architect James Atkins. “The restaurant took an incredible amount of collaboration with the franchise, the town, the owners, and the builder, but in the end the commitment from the Lomasney family made it happen.”
The first challenge was the size of the building. The footprint was much smaller than the typical Slapfish franchise up-fit. Fortunately, the team created two effective solutions. First, they created a walk-up window for foot traffic.
Eliminating the need to walk inside the building immediately created the ability to serve more people. Second, the team created an exterior “pop out” freezer that attached to the rear of the existing building. The simple and efficient addition allowed the entirety of the existing shell to be used for making and serving food. In addition, bike racks were added to both sides of the building in order to encourage cyclists from the next-door bike path to stop and patronize the restaurant.
The team of architects and builders continued thinking through details about how to encourage patrons to dine by redesigning the parking lot and circulation around the restaurant. They removed concrete from the lot and designed landscape beds that not only contributed to an improved aesthetic but helped to direct automobile traffic efficiently.
The interior of the building was demolished with the exception of the Terrazzo floors. A new commercial kitchen was created in the space where the walk-in beer coolers used to be. In order to make the restaurant feel more spacious, the team added height to the ceilings by exposing the wood roof trusses. And in order to keep the building heated and cooled efficiently, spray foam insulation was added to the underside of the roof deck and interior walls.
In order to bring natural light to diners, the restaurant was designed with sliding glass doors that can be opened to an outdoor patio in good weather. Again creating space that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional, the team of builders and architects found a way to make the small footprint of the building flexible in order to serve as many guests as possible. The addition of natural light makes the dining room fitted with the Slapfish signature tables and chairs inviting and comfortable to patrons. But the team did not stop with functionality. In order to add character to the space, the ceiling is finished with corrugated tin accents and the walls are covered with reclaimed wood paneling. “This is a good example of how an unattractive eye-sore can be turned into something quite nice,” stated Joe Fraser of Fraser Construction. “Not everything that is old needs to be replaced.”
And of course, every good seafood restaurant on Hilton Head Island must display a lovely mural of the light house.