The Landing: Creating an Experience One Door at a Time

How do you design a restaurant that is as beautiful as the shores of Northern Lake Michigan, and as welcoming as your favorite local hangout? How do you enable a venue to stay as fresh and appetizing as the great food it serves its customers, all while battling a high-moisture environment and high-volume traffic? The Landing Restaurant in Charlevoix, Michigan shows us how.
Preston Parish, Owner of The Landing, decided to create a delightful experience for the community with these goals in mind. He accomplished this by making wise product selections, one door at a time, that would enhance the surrounding ambiance of this favored destination.
Doors are an important element to the building envelope because they welcome every visitor that visits the establishment. They may seem minimal compared to the food and hospitality created by the hosts of this fast-growing establishment, but they are the one building component that every visitor will touch.
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The main entrance of a restaurant has many functions beyond separating the inside of the building from the outside weather, temperature, and unwanted visitors such as animals and intruders. The doors in the main entrance should reflect the brand of the restaurant, whether that be in size, color, texture or style. A “one-off” restaurant, such as The Landing, may choose to have the main entrance door designed specifically for that location or the owner’s preference.
The selection process will change for a chain of restaurants. For example, a chain of restaurants may want to have a recognizable entrance – or signature entrance – so traveling patrons will recognize their favorite restaurant in other cities. The main entrance must also be engineered for high performance, as the doors must continue to function properly even through max-capacity traffic levels. The front entrance should also be easy to maintain and have low maintenance requirements, enabling it to remain as attractive as the beautifully plated meals served inside the restaurant.
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The Landing restaurant chose painted white aluminum stile and rail doors manufactured by Special-Lite, Inc. These doors feature a lifetime warranty on the tie-rod and corner clip construction. In high traffic areas, the corners are the typical location of door failure.
Many restaurants have side entrances to perform as exit-only doors, but some also serve as access doors to attractive outdoor eating areas. These doors may match the main entrance or have a coordinating design. Although these side openings may not see the foot traffic that the main entrance does, they must also function smoothly, be easily cleaned, and have low maintenance requirements. Many times, food servers must open these doors hands-free to deliver food and beverages to patrons.
One important feature on a side entrance used to access an outside eating area is to enhance visibility. Seeing what is on the other side of the door is an important safety feature– to the user as well as the unsuspecting person standing on the other side.
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On the lake side, The Landing chose to match the front entrance with a painted white aluminum stile and rail door with a mid-rail. The painted aluminum surface is easy to clean and offers protection from corrosion in a wet environment.
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The back door or service entrance of a restaurant is generally located at the back of the building and is the utility door used for delivery of food, equipment, and as an employee entrance. Even though this opening lacks the foot traffic from patrons, the action it does receive can be abusive. From the rigors of deliveries on handcarts to offering a secure door to keep unwanted or uninvited guests from entering – this door needs to be strong, resistant to dents and scratches, have low maintenance requirements and be easy to clean. This work-horse door also needs to match the building’s design and be available in extra wide sizing.
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The Landing chose a Special-Lite wood grain textured FRP/Aluminum hybrid door for the natural look of wood without all the disadvantages of a regular wood door. They also went one step further and asked Special-Lite to ‘plank’ the corrosion-resistant FRP for that beachy feel.
In a restaurant, there are always patron restrooms. No one needs to be reminded how important these doors are to a customer. Patrons commonly infer clean restroom = clean kitchen. For an establishment to communicate that cleanliness is important, the restrooms HAVE to be clean. All architectural products for this very important room should be selected with easy cleaning as a priority.
The Landing knew this and wanted more coastal charm on the interior of their restaurant, so they again chose to use the Special-Lite wood grain textured FRP/Aluminum hybrid door– this time in a stained finish with the same ‘plank’ style.
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Some may feel that doors are no match for a delicious lobster roll or citrus cured salmon florets– or above all– the relaxing social experience on this beautiful shoreline, but at The Landing, even the doors support the brand and the experience that Parish sought to create.
“We knew that the location, being near the water with the humidity, could be corrosive and harsh on the building products we used. We also believed the level of activity we generated would place a significant demand on the architecture and facility. These reasons are exactly why we chose Special-Lite for our building entries and other framing and partitioning solutions”, Parish explained.
The building, the setting, the food and the friendliness consistently draws loyal patrons, friends, and tourists to this gem located on Lake Charlevoix, near the Lake Michigan shoreline. They all enter this experience through a well-thought-out and professionally manufactured Special-Lite door.
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Mid-Panel Adds Versatility to Monumental Doors

Mid-Panel Adds Versatility to Monumental Doors

Our SL-14 and SL-15 are aluminum monumental or stile and rail doors used to create memorable and robust entrances. Whether you choose the standard (SL-14) or wide stile model (SL-15), you have the option to add the SL-484 mid-panel. Why would choose this option?  Simply put, do it for the branding potential.
This 12″ wide mid-panel has a closed-cell foam core, two tie-rods for added strength and an aluminum or FRP skin.  Further, this skin can be branded with your chosen identity—corporate, collegiate, and more.
For example, consider what Drexel University did with their mid-panels.  The university emblem is the dragon.  It finds its way onto all identity materials and takes the form of the school mascot, Mario the Magnificent.  So, why not put it on the entrance doors as well?
Drexel University SL-15 Entrance with mid-panel
What branding ideas do you have in mind?  Share them with us and let’s see how your vision can look on your entrance system.

Doors that Brand: The Making of a Winning Entrance

Do you need Doors that Brand your building? Follow the making of a Winning Entrance

In March, we completed our #inoticedoors hashtag photo contest, and we announced the winning photo by Mike of The Lazzaro Companies: an entrance at Peoples Bank in Highland, IN.

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A Winning Design

This entrance is unique, featuring not only curved framing but also curved muntins that complete the circular shape. Where the curved muntins run thru the door– completing the circle design– vertical muntins begin and travel down to the bottom rail. What an intricate design!  Also notable– the vertical framing above the entrance echoes the lines of the inactive middle leaf. These are not your typical bank doors!

Arches with Curved Framing in Production

Little did anyone know, this entrance had caught our eye much earlier on! We had several projects coming through production with beautifully curved framing in December.

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Any project with curved framing results in a show-stopping entrance– but it wasn’t until I saw the drawings that I knew this would be an entrance that brands a building!

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An Entrance that Brands a building– and Endures

Many Peoples Bank locations feature a similar or nearly identical design with a circular shape and arched framing. However, this is the first to feature Special-Lite entrance products. According to Mike Nolan at The Lazzaro Companies, the original drawings called for aluminum-clad residential doors to suit the overall look the designer wanted. However, Mike advised the bank that Special-Lite was the way to go for this opening. Mike had experience using Special-Lite products in the past. He understood that residential doors do not accept commercial hardware well. In addition, residential doors are certainly not as durable as commercial entrance systems. With support from the contractor, Larson-Danielson, Mike worked with the engineering department at Special-Lite to come up with the opening you see in the photo.

Every entrance product at Special-Lite is made-to-order. This enables us to make a one-of-a-kind entrance such as this one, that stands out and communicates your brand. We love helping organizations create an entrance that leaves a lasting impression on all who enter!

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Courthouse Doors will be Trouble-Free Long After John Retires

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Special-Lite Sales Representative Joe Hoffman of D.A. Loss Associates. He excitedly told me that he had just been on-site at a courthouse, where Special-Lite doors had been installed over 30 years ago and still looked great! Joe enthusiastically shared his story:

In 1981 Fond du Lac County built a new courthouse with Special-Lite SL-16 Aluminum Flush doors. Around that time, we [D.A. Loss Associates] started representing Special-Lite. John Nelson started working for the County in 1977, but will be retiring soon. He has come to appreciate the longevity of the doors, “They were installed when the building was built and we have not had any problems.”

John recently asked for help when he needed a new weather brush. He decided to use our SL-301 Adjustable Bottom Brush that Special-Lite invented a few years back, and now these courthouse doors will be better than new. I love my job because I get to work with people like John and see how we have grown to become a part of many communities in Wisconsin. I hope I get to see John before he retires, if not I wish him all the best.

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Joe, John, and the Courthouse Doors

Elephant Doors: Swing Open Frame Units

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Extra Large Doors Big Enough for an Elephant!

Do you have large equipment you need to move in or out of your building? Do you have a showroom where you regularly rotate large promotional items, such as trucks or cars? Will you need to occasionally move a large animal, like an elephant, from one building to another? If you shook your head YES to any of these questions, Special-Lite has your solution!

We celebrate Special-Lite’s dedication to bringing engineered solutions to you. We employ entrance designers and skilled craftspeople because we know that our customers sometimes need something out of the ordinary.

Elephant doors represent one such example. Just look at how we met this customer’s need.

Showroom Entrance Solution

You need to move large objects in and out without resorting to ugly roll-up doors.  Indeed, function does not have to trump aesthetics. Working with Special-Lite, a showroom found the perfect solution.

Collaboration between building owner, sales representative, installer, and Special-Lite resulted in a custom designed, large commercial opening, with all of the functionality and design appeal desired. The design uses an aluminum frame system that can swing out of the opening for ‘moving’ day, yet integrates manually operated or automated doors for everyday use! In this case, the side hinged frame sections and doors are equipped with continuous gear hinges for ease of use and durability, eliminating the need for trackways and side clearances. The frame units are locked down with flush bolts on top and bottom when closed to provide added security. You have the option for removable center posts for rigid support in securing the doors.

 

Beautiful Doors with Secret Superpowers!

Special-Lite® Elephant Doors provide a brilliant solution for accommodating the passage of large objects in and out of a facility. They are perfect entrance solutions for shopping malls, convention centers, sports arenas, dealership showrooms, zoos, and museums.

 

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Intrigued? Meet with one of our Special-Lite Reps and find out what we can do for your building!