Times Square Diner & Grill : Casual Dining The Winner

A hardworking stereotype springs to mind with the word diner. There might be vinyl-upholstered booths, wipe-able walls, and tubular-chrome chairs, all dated and unadorned. Nevertheless, the owners of this eatery asked principal Antonio Di Oronzo not to go in another direction entirely but instead to work within the genre, updating it—and upscaling it—through design.

To raise the ceiling of the 1,300-square-foot space, Di Oronzo shoehorned in state-of-the-art mechanicals. To bypass the typical diner’s flat fluorescent lighting, he employed a mix of recessed LEDs and incandescent pendant fixtures. He chose travertine tile for the flooring and dark green ceramic tile for the walls and the front of the bar. Walnut encases columns, panels walls, backs booths, and tops tables.

His overarching gesture is a linen-covered plywood “egg crate” that elongates at the sidewalls. “The system’s repetitive elements allowed for digital fabrication and easy assembly, making for less expense,” he says. Hence the possibility of splurging on Eero Saarinen’s chairs. Upholstered in a taupe wool tweed, they serve up cushioned, stylish comfort.

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