Zaatar W Zeit is a Lebanese fast-casual food chain that is growing in popularity around the globe. Mercury had the honour of building the first North American location for the chain on busy Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. Frank Architecture out of Calgary came up with a beautiful design for us to execute incorporating two kitchens and a large customer seating area with lofty ceilings.
The Zaatar W Zeit chain serves traditional Lebanese cuisine with a modern twist. The design of the interior reflects that mission, incorporating homey, traditional materials together with a modern look. The high ceiling and the openness of the space create a light, airy environment for casual dining.
We love the finished appearance of the restaurant, but much of the work we are proudest of is what you don’t see behind the scenes.
A grid of wood panels draws the eye upward when you step into the building. While it is a beautiful architectural detail, it serves a secondary, functional purpose: it conceals the mechanical equipment above for the kitchen hood exhaust system.
In fact, there is around 15-20 feet of space above the ceiling that restaurant-goers would never guess is there. There is additional storage space upstairs as well. This is also the area where we incorporated sprinklers to meet fire codes. We managed to keep it all accessible while hiding these systems from view so that diners can enjoy the clean, simple look of the restaurant.
The kitchen hood exhaust system we mentioned previously was necessitated by the high-density location of Zaatar, and is one of the most intricate, high-tech HVAC systems we have ever installed. To operate a restaurant in this area, one must conform to strict requirements for the control of grease-laden vapours. To help Zaatar meet these regulatory demands, we installed ecologisers on their kitchen systems.
What else did we do behind the scenes to ensure that the first North American Zaatar location is as functional as it is beautiful? We built a large structural steel bunker around the washrooms, and also implemented water and electrical upgrades to service both kitchens. All told, it was an extensive job that helped us engineer new solutions for restaurant locations like this one.
We established a great working relationship with the owners of Zaatar W Zeit while we brought this project to fruition. The food chain has plans to continue its expansion. We hope to ultimately help them bring their fresh, delicious Lebanese cuisine to more customers in the future with additional locations, bringing into play everything we learned working on this flagship Granville Street eatery.