Apart from evoking a unique mood and ambiance, a well-designed restaurant tells the story of the owners and the menu. A seasoned architect can translate that narrative using the built environment and integrate the brand’s identity through tasteful color schemes and the strategic selection of design elements.  

To help you choose the right designer equipped to handle any building requirements you might have, our team has listed the best restaurant architects in San Mateo, California. These firms were selected for their accreditations, certifications, and professional affiliations. We also considered the recognition each firm has received in the form of industry awards, client reviews, and press features. We have laid out the range of services the firms offer, their specializations, and the length of time they have been in the industry.

Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors

44 McLea Court, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors is a multidisciplinary firm offering architecture and interior design services that have afforded the firm awards from the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). It champions active listening and collaboration throughout the process of crafting commercial spaces alongside individuals, businesses, and nonprofits. Cass Calder Smith’s in-house staff covers ground-up construction, renovations, and interior build outs for hospitality projects that benefit the community.

A member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Cass Calder Smith has gained a wealth of experience and developed a design style that emphasizes bold imagery and modernist detail. His service to the city has been followed by leadership positions on the Civic Design Review Committee of The San Francisco Arts Commission and the Board for the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Smith’s work has been published in The New York Times, Architectural Record, Metropolitan Home, and Hospitality Design, among others. He has cultivated the firm’s experience in food service retail design and its know-how around the specific challenges of restaurant construction, demonstrated by PAUSA Restaurant and Bar.

The design of Pausa was led by Barbara Turpin-Vickroy. The restaurant is meant to evoke a modern Italian experience with crafted materials and sophisticated lines in an open and light filled space. The marble bar and richly detailed brass liquor shelving lead the eye back to an open kitchen with a wood fired pizza oven and dough preparation room. Seating is in three distinct areas defined by low walls of wood panels, metal, and glass, with banquettes and booths to establish a relaxed level of luxury.

Field Paoli Architects

711 Market St. 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103

With expertise in design and planning, Field Paoli Architects shapes public spaces that promote equity and social well-being as an affiliate of the Urban Land Institute Health Leaders Network. The San Francisco Certified Green Business actively contributes to the advancement of AIA 2030 Commitment, striving toward carbon neutral buildings, developments and major renovations by 2030. The firm connects people with the built environment by creating engaging selling environments that meet the standards of the Retail Design Institute.

Yann Taylor, Trish Beckman, and Christen Soares run Field Paoli Architects and bring together creative, technical, and management prowess. Yann has spent more than 25 years designing retail and mixed-use projects in both the U.K. and U.S. Meanwhile, Trish is a Certified Design Development Construction Professional and a Certified Retail Real Estate Professional with over 20 years of experience. Yann and Trish are members of the AIA and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professionals, as is Christen who is adept in retail and food projects. They have all been instrumental in Field Paoli Architects’ work such as for this SOMA Steep Brew project in San Francisco.

To speak to the surrounding historical manufacturing buildings, the floor finish was ground away to expose the concrete aggregate, the bar was clad in brick, and repurposed glulam beams and raw steel were used to form the seated counter. Exposed wood framing was used as shelving, bottle display, tap handle storage, and menu board framing for the bar, along with an exposed plywood soffit overhead.

William Duff Architects

1275 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Established 24 years ago and led by founder and managing principal William S. Duff, Jr., William Duff Architects (WDA) is passionate about serving its clients through the creation of innovative, sustainable architecture delivered through excellent project management. The firm’s elegant design solutions respond to their context with an artist’s understanding of when to use restraint or expression. With capabilities in multiple sectors, WDA is known for its award-winning and diverse portfolio of residential, workplace, hospitality and retail environments.

WDA’s retail practice, led by Jonathan Tsurui, delivers unique designs that welcome customers, showcase products, and maximize flow for new and expanding retail and hospitality concepts throughout North America. For Chef & the Butcher, Tsurui and the WDA team worked with their client to design a new dining and retail experience.

The multifunctional space was designed to serve as a restaurant, marketplace, and butcher shop. Its materials reference the building’s history to evoke a warm, inviting atmosphere. Central placement of the smoker leads the eye through the space and creates a dynamic interior focused on food as theater. This project demonstrates WDA’s expertise at delivering thoughtful, design-driven restaurant projects.

Panko Architects

311 Seventh Ave 1, San Mateo, CA 94401

Panko Architects partners with clients to deliver exceptional master planning, feasibility studies, architecture and design, interior planning and design and construction administration services. Its commitment to a culture that fosters curiosity, collaboration, and innovation drives the firm’s success in projects across its residential, retail, and commercial practices. The Panko team develops design solutions tailored to clients’ needs, and creates environments that respond to complex programmatic requirements and work well for the end users.

From working on Eichler homes at Anshen & Allen Architects in the early 1960s, Principal Stanley Panko has since amassed almost 50 years of design experience spanning single and multifamily residences, retail, entertainment, and health and wellness facilities. The AIA member carries NCARB, LEED, and interior design certifications. Honored with numerous local, state, and national design awards, his work can be seen in 35 states and predominantly in California and Hawaii.

One of Panko Architects’ most memorable projects is the Vault 164 Restaurant. The firm renovated the 1925 Beaux Arts-style Crocker Bank building into a fine-dining spot, incorporating the structure’s history into the design. A teller booth stands in the entrance, a vault door turned on its side makes another showpiece, and an old safe now serves as the hostess stand. Pendants hang from the high ceiling above the bar. Tiled pillars and giant Mondrian-style drapes match the dark color scheme that suggests a swanky supper club.


  • Blaine Comeione

    Blaine has served as Editor at General Contractors for six years, drawing from over ten years of experience in construction and real estate. His comprehensive understanding spans commercial construction, architecture, and home builds, cultivated through diverse roles in the industry. With four years at BuildZoom and a background as a licensed real estate agent, Blaine possesses a unique perspective that enriches his editorial work. His dedication to delivering informative content is underscored by his extensive tenure in the field, ensuring that readers receive valuable insights into the dynamic world of construction and home design. Expertise: Architecture, Commercial Construction, Home Design and Build Key Highlights: Over 6 years of experience writing and editing in the construction space, Editor at General Contractors, Previous experience at BuildZoom and Keller Williams Realty Education: Ohio University, Bachelor of Science in Human and Consumer Science - Minor in Business, 120+ Hours of New Jersey Real Estate Education, 120+ Hours of Arizona Real Estate Education