Fruition were delighted and excited to be asked to design the new restaurant for Kents Cavern. Not only is it literally just around the corner from us, we all have very happy memories visiting the caves as children and again with our children!
Kents Cavern – The Brief
The brief from the team at Kents was to create a design that would enable a complete change in the food and drink offer at this unique attraction in Torquay. They wanted a colourful, contemporary area that would tie in with the stone age heritage of the caves, to maximise seating that is comfortable to encourage a relaxing, enjoyable stay, with the emphasis on creating a fantastic customer experience.
Laura Tapper was the lead designer for this project and she took inspiration literally, walking around the caves to lead her to a colour palette that is perfectly in tune with Kents Cavern. She has used a deep, warm firestone red as a backdrop to different hues of grey, yellow and stone. The colours flow beautifully from the caves through to the restaurant, which will not only be an added attraction to visitors to the caves but will be stand-alone food destination and will also have an important part to play with school children who come for educational visits.
The existing cafe was dominated by a very large serving counter, with a very small entrance, and canteen style tables and chairs. Laura has created a new servery, which is user-friendly, better positioned and with an organic feel. Using a map of the caves from the early 1900s Laura produced an amazing graphic which has been transposed onto the curved counter.
The ticket desk has been resized and this has opened up the entrance, making it feel much more welcoming and inviting. New super comfortable banquet seating has warm wood slatted backs, which have an uneven finish, continuing the ‘rockiness’ feel. There is a feature wall in the child-friendly seating area using an amazing wall covering from Tektura, which looks just like some of the rock formations in the caves, and colourful ceiling baffles have been installed to soak up any noise.
With space created by changing the servery counter, there is softer seating with low coffee tables for customers to enjoy their morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Lighting is always critical in any design, and Laura commissioned Lin Lovekin from Cornwall to create some amazing light fittings which are reminiscent of Helictites, a distorted form of Stalactite with a more curved form, growing from the ceiling. We know once installed these fittings will enhance the organic feel of the space.
In addition to the interior design, one of our print and digital designers, Chris Coombes, also worked on the project. He was responsible for illustrating six stone-age animals, that included Woolly Mammoths, a Hyena and a Scimitar Cat. These illustrations were printed onto the timber table tops in the restaurant and were also applied to the newly timber panelled welcome desk in the Kents Cavern visitor centre.
Taking inspiration from Laura’s interior scheme, Chris also designed the hot drinks and food menu boards. The artwork he created was printed onto plywood panels and hung behind the servery. We also provided digital artwork for Kents Cavern’s brand new signage system. The ten bespoke graphics promote special offers and local activities and will be used for display on the screens within the Firestone Kitchen restaurant.
Overall, the new restaurant, which will be called The Firestone Kitchen, will completely change the hospitality offering at Kents Cavern, inspired by the Stone Age and connected to nature. We know customers will love to visit time and time again to enjoy the space and the new menu, which includes stone-baked flatbreads such as the Forager, with peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, spinach and cherry tomatoes and burgers, one of which is called the Wild One!
The Firestone Kitchen will open on 10 February 9 am till 5 pm daily, is available for private hire and will offer morning coffee, lunch and afternoon teas. There will be themed evenings too with special menus from June, another great reason to visit and enjoy!
Head to Kents Caverns dedicated Firestone Kitchen page to find out more.
From the client
Fruition have grabbed the essence of what we were trying to achieve, and given us a bespoke space using top quality materials to take us into the next era as one of Torquay’s top visitor attractions.
Nick Powe, Director of Kents Cavern