When Michael Gulotta decided to open Maypop, a second restaurant featuring his unique Southern meets Asian fusion cuisine, the award-winning chef and his business partners faced a major hurdle. Lack of money. Their budget represented, at best, a small fraction of the typical restaurant build out. And while the bare-bones, figure-it-out-as-you-go look may have sufficed at Gulotta’s laid-back Mid-City eatery MoPho, he and his team understood they’d need to up the design ante for this newer, more upscale culinary venture. Fortunately a combination of shrewd choices, a strong DIY ethic, and the resourceful creativity of designers Farouki Farouki more than compensated for Gulotta and company’s slim pocketbook.
The result? Maypop. Eater’s 2017 Design of the Year and proof positive, that when it comes to design, cleverness, and sweat count as much as dollars.
From the very start, Gulotta and his partners — brother Jeff and high school friend Jeffrey Bybee — understood that building out a restaurant from scratch wasn’t an option. When the chance to take over the former digs of the short-lived Ursa Major surfaced, Maypop’s owners seized the opportunity. The space had much going for it: a solid CBD location, a sizeable dining room, an existing bar and reasonably-sized kitchen, high ceilings, modern concrete finishes, and plenty of natural light. But how to transform the decidedly cold, zodiac-themed space on a Pluto-sized budget?
Enter architectural and design team Sabri Taji Farouki and Caroline Landry Farouki of Farouki Farouki.
Though the husband and wife architectural and design team had worked on numerous hi-end hospitality projects in California and New York, their recent relocation to New Orleans (Caroline is a Louisiana native) meant the firm was eager to forge more local clients.
“Farouki Farouki got us,” says Gulotta. “They let us know how we could make the budget work and where to put our efforts. Using a lot of original features was key.”
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