Announcing the Inaugural rd+d Awards Winners

restaurant development + design magazine has unveiled its inaugural rd+d awards, selecting five restaurants across six categories. The winners represent the best of the best in both restaurant development and design. Projects were scored from submission criteria and informed by the judges’ knowledge and experience.

“Our readers are some of the most innovative and creative professionals working today,” says Rebecca Kilbreath, Editor in Chief of restaurant development + design, “Since our magazine exists as a peer-driven resource to share information and to spark conversation, the rd+d awards gave us a new opportunity to recognize great projects and teams and to share that work with their peers.”

The judges for the inaugural rd+d awards were Jen Conley, project designer, The Gettys Group; Marc Jacobs, executive vice president and partner, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises; Jay Miranda, Principal Design Studio, Chipman Design Architecture; Jonathan Nikiel, project manager, Equipment Dynamics Inc.; Sonny Sultani, CEO, Sonny+Ash.

Only projects completed between January 1, 2015 and August 1, 2016 were eligible for each of the six award categories. Entrants were required to submit a floor plan, photos and address a list of questions to illustrate the project’s goals, challenges, strategies, etc.

To view floor plans and more photos of our winners, visit A rundown of the categories and award winners include:

Outside the Box Award

Winner: &pizza, Washington D.C.
The judges felt the team did a “brilliant job” of meeting the logistical challenges of the site and, in doing so, created a “great, localized, funky urban design.”

Form + Function Innovation Award

Winner: Angel Oak at Bacara Resort & Spa, Santa Barbara, CA
The creation of more intimate spaces within a large restaurant space garnered praise from the judges, who noted, “It’s a striking, modern approach to a steak and seafood restaurant.”

Honorable Mentions: &pizza, Washington D.C.; Raven Tower at White Oak Music Hall, Houston

Best New Concept Launch and Best Limited-Service Restaurant Design

Winner: Buena Onda, Philadelphia, PA
The only restaurant to take the top honor in two categories, the judges thought Buena Onda was “young and fresh” and the “best overall design concept and execution.”

Honorable Mentions: &pizza, Washington D.C.; Shake Shack, Phoenix, AZ

Best Full-Service Restaurant Design — Casual Dining

Winner: Mabel’s BBQ, Cleveland, OH
The judges noted the design was a perfect execution of the brand’s intent.

Best Full-Service Restaurant Design — Fine Dining

Winner: Eastside, Minneapolis, MN
This “innovative and current” restaurant’s modern ambience drew praise from the judges.

Honorable Mention: Porter House Bar and Grill, New York, NY

Soup Club: Zuppa de Toscano

For the first Soup Club of 2017, sales rep Nick made zuppa de toscana, which had both bacon and cream, and so it was quite the crowd-pleaser even though the office crowd was small that day. It was delish! Seriously, when is somebody gonna make a terrible soup? It's gonna me, right? I'm going to make the terrible soup! 


A bevy of ladies enjoying soup: Renee, Anne, Rebecca (that's me) and BG. Dave is pulling up the rear! 

Dan Leaves & Takes Soup Club With Him

Our business development director Dan Hogan has decided to try something new in 2017. He's moving on, and we're going to miss him. In an exceptional gesture of gastronomical kindness, his wife, Puyi, made us some incredible authentic Thai food. 

Real talk? I was so busy eating that I sorta forgot to take pictures. That's a sign of a great lunch, I think. 

I did get two snaps: This incredible appetizer. I have no idea what it is, exactly (some tiny peppers, some onion, some dehydrated shrimp) but it was spectacular!

And this intensely flavorful soup basically makes me want to pack up Soup Club and send it home. It's basically over for me now (even though it technically starts back up in earnest in January). We also had curry that I was far too busy stuffing into my face to pick up my phone. 

We'll miss you, Dan! Thanks so much to Dan for being a great co-worker and friend of everyone at Zoomba Group. And thanks to Puyi for being such a great cook! Because I was so remiss in taking pics at Soup Club, the above is a pic of Puyi, Dan and our own BG (who is going nowhere!) at our holiday dinner earlier this month!