Atelier Restaurant Expansion

Atelier Restaurant Expansion

Atelier Restaurant is one of Ottawa’s hidden gems.  Behind an unassuming grey brick facade lies an intimate dining establishment run by Marc Lepine, who is a wizard of molecular gastronomy.  Lepine has a host of awards and championships under his belt and, in 2014 his restaurant was one of only two Canadian restaurants included in The Centurion Guide to the Best Restaurants in the World:

Chef Marc Lepine’s Atelier has become the veritable Meryl Streep of Canadian cooking awards ever since it opened in 2008: It’s earned the Canadian Culinary Championship; its wine expert won Ontario’s top sommelier award; and it’s placed twice on the country’s top-five restaurant list since it opened.  Lepine’s kitchen is a laboratory, of sorts, with nary an oven in sight: It’s all about molecular gastronomy, with an unwavering dedication to fresh local bites and artistic presentation. The 12-course set menu changes frequently and will play with your conventional conceptions of cuisine, but Lepine doesn’t take it all too seriously —- some of his dishes have been named Yolko Uno and The Codfather.

Atelier originally took up the ground floor of a formerly-residential building built around the 1920’s, and seated only 22 people.  After being open for seven years, Lepine saw his customer base grow significantly, so the restaurant needed to expand.  They wanted to take over the rest of the building (formerly an apartment) and add an addition to expand the kitchen.  That’s where Urbanomic Interiors came in.

Right now we are smack dab in the middle of the process of expanding and renovating Atelier’s space.  The addition has been built, almost tripling the size of the kitchen.

Atelier 1 - Exterior Addition

The addition doesn’t stand out from the original building, even with the scaffolding still in place.  It was planned not to add to the aesthetic of the dining area, but to add space and functionality behind the scenes where the magic takes place.

Atelier 2 - Staircase   Atelier 3 - Staircase

The main dining area (previously the only dining area) received its share of structural changes.  The staircase to the second level, which was originally the private access to the apartment above, has been flipped front-to-back.  This will open up the main dining area (above bottom, with original furniture) and visually welcome patrons to the upper level of the restaurant.

Atelier 4 - Upstairs Dining Room

The second floor has been completely gutted to transform it from an apartment to a dining room with a bar, as well as supplemental bathrooms for patrons.

Atelier 5 - Dropped Basement Floor   Atelier 5 - Basement Storage Room

Above-top you can see where we had to excavate the original concrete basement floor (at the higher level) and put in a new floor almost a foot lower than the old one.  This allowed for increased ceiling height in the basement so that new staff bathrooms could be installed as dictated by code.  As an added bonus, the lower floor allowed us to transform what had originally been an awkward crawlspace into a proper finished storage room, shown above almost complete.

Atelier 6 - Samples

Now that the structural work is nearing completion, it’s time for finishing!  Paint, wallpaper, cabinetry, and furniture are all to be installed in the next six weeks or so.  Above you can see samples of what will appear in the newly-expanded and -redesigned space.  We chose an elegant black, white and silver palette so that the colours and textures of Lepine’s gastronomic creations will pop in the room.  Atelier’s primary focus is on the food, and Lepine wanted the decor to reflect that.

Want to learn more about this great restaurant?  Check out Marc Lepine’s interview with Ottawa Magazine, or read up on Atelier’s accomplishments on their website.  Atelier is scheduled to reopen in about six weeks, and they function by reservation only, so book your reservation today!


Katherine Youngs

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