A successful restaurant is built on a foundation of ambiance and comfort. Your customers should be able to enjoy their meals and feel good about their visit to your restaurant—as they will if there are key design features creating the right atmosphere. It is critical to choose a professional that will design your establishment with your brand personality in mind and provide the best possible dining experience for your customers.
The list below includes the best restaurant architects in Raleigh, North Carolina. These firms were selected for their accreditations, certifications, and professional affiliations. Industry awards, client reviews, and press features were also taken into account as well as the range of services the firms offer, their specializations, and the length of time they have been in the industry.
Cline Design Associates
125 N Harrington Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Founded in 1989 with a vision for improving communities by combining architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and interior design, Cline Design Associates has long been a prominent architectural firm. President Gary Cline understands that the firm’s success is based not only on outstanding design but also on the good experiences clients have had working with the firm. By combining services, the firm effectively finds, creates, and implements design ideas that celebrate each project’s uniqueness. For 32 years, the firm has offered varied, dynamic, and high-quality spaces that inspire people to connect to a warm community. These designs have won the firm several awards since its establishment, including the 2021 Space Award Top Mixed-Use Development and the Space Award Top Multifamily Development in 2020.
Throughout the southeast and beyond, Cline Design Associates has developed hundreds of multi-family, mixed-use, retail, and hotel buildings. One of its completed projects is Clouds Brewing, a 5,500-square-foot gastropub in the mixed-use Glenwood South District of Downtown Raleigh. Cline Design Associates gave the project a rustic and industrial character through the use of dark wood, unpolished concrete, and metal furniture and fixtures. They also exposed the vents and piping in the ceiling. Moving glass wall systems remove the boundary between indoors and outdoors by opening up the interior dining space to the patio.
208 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham, NC 27701
Alliance Architecture provides commercial architectural and interior design, project management, and adaptive reuse services that meet the standards of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Private developers, public enterprises, federal agencies, and state institutions, are among its clientele. John Warasila, the founding principal, pioneered the firm’s service-oriented approach called “High-Value Design.” He specializes in interior architecture, having spent 20 years heading the development of small- and large-scale projects. He is well-versed in implementing design concepts that adhere to rigorous budget and schedule constraints. John has led Alliance Architecture in producing well-crafted restaurants such as Only Burger in Durham.
Only Burger began as one of the first food trucks on the street. A large 3-D model of the iconic truck hangs outside and inside the diner, greeting customers and educating them on the origins of the restaurant. The mobile food scene is echoed in the interiors adorned with car plates and wheel barrels for the bars. Hues of orange and black decorate the space as a translation of Only Burger’s brand identity.
New City Design Group
1304 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27605
Driven by its commitment to fulfilling its clients’ vision and goals, New City Design Group champions quality and innovation through critically thoughtful problem solving and design; that approach has won multiple Sir Walter Awards. The practice applies an approach that upholds the values of the AIA, spearheaded by principals and AIA members Ted Van Dyk, Corey Bates, and Jeffrey Rezeli. Ted currently serves on the Wake County Planning Board, the Alexander YMCA Advisory Board, and the Hillsborough Street Business Improvement District Board; Corey is a member of various non-profit construction committees, including the City of Raleigh Appearance Commission. Corey draws on 29 years of experience doing architecture and construction work for residential, commercial, renovation, and institutional projects. He is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). So is Jeffrey, who has spent 22 years collaborating with public and private clients. The principals lend their knowledge of the design process to New City Design Group’s collection of commercial facilities. Associate Shannon Laska, the team’s Interiors guru, can take credit for the firm’s unique, crisp palettes and materials features.
Tonbo Ramen is a great example. New City Design Group renovated a century-old building into an urban-rustic restaurant while preserving elements of the historic building’s character. Walking into the shop, a ramen bar and open kitchen offer guests a view of the careful preparation of each ramen bowl from start to finish. Upstairs, a cozy Japanese small plate bar, known as “izakaya,” serves craft cocktails, sake, and other Japanese alcoholic beverages. As a tribute to the history of the building, the original doors to the tailor shop and the dentist clinic that once occupied the structure were refurbished and incorporated into the décor.
115 1/2 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Founded in 1993 by David Maurer, AIA, LEED AP, Maurer Architecture is an award-winning business based on Raleigh’s historic East Hargett Street in the center of downtown. David has since been committed to offering high-quality, personalized services by purposefully keeping the firm small so that it can devote its full attention to each project and client. The firm steadily built a reputation for honesty and excellence within the design community, enough to be featured in publications like SALT Magazine and Walter Magazine.
Maurer’s architecture respects originality, transparency, and effectiveness. Its comprehensive portfolio is full of the finest projects built on time and within budget. This bakery and café in Raleigh is a prime example. What started as a huge open concrete shell was transformed into this Union Special location. The project showcases a state-of-the-art kitchen and bakery, retail shelving, and indoor and outdoor dining areas for guests. Steel table bases are fabricated with plywood tops, while display cases for baked goods and interior windows allow passersby a peek into the bakery.
220 Horizon Drive, Suite 221, Raleigh, NC 27615
Since its inception in 1998, Gontram Architecture has been providing clients with a more flexible approach to architectural services by focusing on cost management, contract administration, and design excellence. Gontram Architecture offers services that adhere to deadlines and keep projects within budget. The firm’s founder, Edmund J. Gontram III, AIA, makes sure he understands the client’s goals and makes them his own. Aside from being a licensed architect, Edmund is also a registered general contractor. In 2007, he was certified as a LEED Accredited Professional by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Since then, Gontram Architecture has sought to incorporate sustainable design aspects into traditional projects, giving insights on the benefits of green building and attempting to decrease waste in the built environment.
Gontram Architecture has extensive experience in a wide range of architectural designs and is responsible for the design of Lynnwood Grill in Raleigh. The new, two-story restaurant is home to one of the city’s best rooftop bar decks, just across the street from the original. Every seat in the sports bar has an unobstructed view of large-screen high-definition televisions, providing a casual and relaxed environment. Inside, neon signs add life to the mood lighting from spotlights; the wood from the walls and furniture make the space even cozier.
310 Architecture + Interiors
302 Jefferson Street, Suite 250, Raleigh, NC 27605
310 Architecture + Interiors is a Raleigh-based interdisciplinary design business. For 11 years, the firm has provided architecture, interior design, branding, and planning. As a multi-disciplinary firm, 310 Architecture + Interiors is able to handle a project’s demands from a variety of perspectives at the same time, thus offering more comprehensive solutions for its clients. Principal David Bradford, AIA, LEED Accredited Professional, ensures that the firm continues to grow by tackling new challenges. This practice led the firm to win the Sir Walter Raleigh Award in 2017.
Each member of the firm brings its own set of interests and abilities to the table, resulting in a diverse variety of services it can provide to its clients. Small Cakes in Cary stands out among the firm’s comprehensive portfolio of commercial, healthcare, and institutional projects. The cupcake bakery’s pastel color palette matches Small Cakes’s packaging and the pink icing of the cupcakes on display. The counter serves as the focal design element built with wooden slats painted in the same candy pastel colors as the interior walls. The intricately detailed coffered ceiling lends a touch of dainty refinement to the bakery.
Craig Dean Architecture
305 Grand Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27606
Craig Dean brings over 25 years of experience to the practice he founded in 2000. He continues to direct Craig Dean Architecture’s operations, from managing the design team to overseeing construction contracts. The team caters to the public, commercial, institutional, resort, recreation, food service, industrial, and retail markets. Craig has authored and developed many of the strategies the firm has used to creatively respond to the needs of their clients while staying on top of current trends.
The Sparians experience was realized by Craig Dean Architecture’s design for this boutique and bistro establishment in Raleigh. The lounge-style bowling alley housed a private restaurant and bar, three private suites with six bowling lanes, and gaming stations. The unique suspended lighting fixtures in the restaurant drew the eyes upward and created a sense of vertical depth with their curved linear form. Behind the bar, a backlit wall was framed with shelving to store and creatively display bottles of liquor, statement glassware, and garnishes. The grid pattern on the sculptural lights was mirrored by the back bar, wood-paneled walls, and ceiling; it was all complemented by the stone accent wall.
6601 Six Forks Road, Suite 130, Raleigh, NC 27615
Located in Alexander Square, Crema is famous for its signature Tomato and Brie sandwich. The cafe also offers custom blended ice cream, gourmet coffee, homemade soups, and freshly made salads. High ceilings, glass walls, and a brown motif interior give the space an inviting, sophisticated atmosphere where you’d want to stay a little longer to savor their offerings and chat.
This space was designed by Phillips Architecture, a firm that has been serving Raleigh since 1989. President Jason Byrd leads the team in providing tenant space planning, ground-up construction, additions, and alteration work for clients in the corporate, retail, education, medical, industrial, restaurant, and multifamily industries. The firm has designed projects for Hilton, Microsoft, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Subway.