From a food truck to a sit-down restaurant featuring authentic Mexican cuisine, Flying Pepper Cantina offers unique tacos, small-plate appetizers, and a variety of cocktails to the Downtown Bellefontaine restaurant scene.
ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR DESIGN
Flying Pepper Cantina| Bellefontaine, Ohio
Starting out as a popular food truck serving up a variety of fresh, local, and authentic Mexican food, The Flying Pepper Cantina now calls Bellefontaine home. Chef Humberto Nieto grew up in the small town of Michoacan, Mexico. He brings with him made-from-scratch regional recipes that transport the flavors of traditional Mexico to Ohio. Humberto cooks for pleasure and his enthusiasm and enjoyment translate to a flavor-filled culinary delight for the most discerning palates.
With most of the historic storefront cornice missing, and what was remaining in irreparable condition, we had to design a replacement. Thecornice design had to be compatiblewith the historical details that once were andbe able to be constructed with modern, maintenance-friendly materials. We made a plan, got to work, and restored the area back to its former glory.
A Convincing Color Palette
Taking into consideration the materials and colors of the adjacent buildings, as well as the overall aesthetic of West Columbus Avenue, our designers selected paint colors for the newly restored facade. This beautiful historic building had been painted white for decades, so proposing a colorful, historic palette took a little convincing. We worked with the building owners and were able to come to a decision on a classic, timeless, and historic palette that respects the origins of the structure.
Varying finished floor heights inside the three existing storefronts posed a challenge with the new patio, as each storefront door needed to be ADA-compliant. Our project team carefully planned and executed a patio design that, complied with accessibility requirements, and provided enough flat usable area for functional outdoor dining. This solution also had enough slope to drain water away from the building and into the street properly.
Due to the sidewalk being public property and too narrow to accommodate outdoor dining, we worked with city officials to approve changes to the design of the space and started construction. The proposed and approved design included a new, private, fifteen feet deep by fifty-five feet long patio, with a public sidewalk wrapping around it where parking spaces had previously been located. The guardrail, while thoughtfully designed to enclose the private patio(complying with liquor license regulations), reinforced the new tenant’s aesthetic on the exterior of the building. The contractors installed footings for a future canopy structure, ensuring the newly poured concrete patio would not be disturbed when the developer was ready to move into their next phase.
Initially, the signage started out as inspirational. Our designers knew we wanted something that was illuminated and would draw people’s eye from Main Street. We worked on drawing elevations to determine the perfect scale for the cabinet sign on the front facade of the building. Once the scale was determined, our team reached out to DaNite Sign Co. to collaborate on the fabrication of the sign and to select the perfect material for the look desired.
In order to restore the historic qualities of the building internally, the Revival team had to first analyze and define a layout that made the most sense with the existing bones and the intent of use for the building. Being strategic with the types of restaurant seating, our architecture team took into consideration the narrow structure of the space and developed a floor plan to comfortably seat as many people as possible. Developing the kitchen, we planned effective layouts to maximizethe ease of use within the historic space — creating the perfect culinary workspace for Chef Neito to thrive.
Soon after demolition began, historic painted tiles were uncovered, and the hopes to salvage the character of the building soared. Through many restoration attempts, it was deemed not feasible to keep the original flooring. Our determined designers quickly pivoted and conserved as many tiles as possible in order to utilize them in the space; an arched opening that leads to the back corridor.
Our Production Design Team developed conceptual animations to allow the client to‘walk through’ the space before committing to anything. With there being a shared entry space between The Flying Pepper Cantina and Build Cowork + Space, the animation allowed the client to see how the design would flow seamlessly for both businesses. The space needed to be versatile and easily changed from coworking by day to overflow dining on evenings and weekends.
We kept the design minimalistic, bringing in warmth from the Cantina with walnut planks suspended from the ceiling, which also functioned as acoustic dampening. The rest of the shared space’s palette remained neutral with tones of black and gray,meshing with both the vibes of The Flying Pepper Cantina and Build Cowork.
Higher ceilings increase the volume in a room, meaning sound is lost in the“dead space” above our heads. This knowledge, paired witha high-energy restaurant setting, challenged our designers to find a solution for the high decibels in this historic fourteen-foot, first-floor space. Collaborating with team members at Audimute and Velorossa Lighting Design, our team developedboth a beautiful full wall mural, and custom light fixtures with sound-dampening qualities. This design not only made for a stunning space but provided functional qualities to aid in the noise control solution.
The Flying Pepper Cantina menu has a level of sophisticated elevation, not found in your everyday Mexican restaurant. Our interior design team desired to reflect that throughout the interiors. The color palette uses earthy tones often found in South American culture, accented with ornate walnut doors and naturally irregular porcelain tile. A beautiful mix that respects the history of the Chef and the origins of the building it calls home. It was also important to our client that the environment felt warm and real, like the food they would serve, with tactile finishes, and to showcase their collection of authentic, Otomi art pieces.
setting the bar
Our team knew the lit back bar would be a huge focal point for The Flying Pepper Cantina, but we struggled to find the perfect material to achieve the look our designers were going for. The search concluded when we found a Cambria Quartz that, when illuminated from behind, would allow the light to pass through the slab,creating a beautiful pattern with the stone veins.
After selecting the Quartz, we needed to figure out how to illuminate the slab —and our search for the perfect light source began. We needed a source that allowed light to span over the entire slab equally.While most options would only illuminate certain areas, leaving dark, dead spots, our team finally landed on a LED meshing that was installed behind the entire slab — creating the most stunning backdrop for their bar, and their bottles.
Translating the story of someone’s life into the design of a space creates an experience that the customer won’t soon forget. The Flying Pepper Cantina, with its welcoming nature and inspired creative team, cultivated an award–winning aesthetic that respects the history of all involved — while offering new and exciting culinary creations that continue to surprise and delight.
Merit Award 2021
Revival Design Collective received a Merit Award for The Flying Pepper Cantina in the Interior Architecture category of the American Institute of Architects, Dayton Chapter during their Focus on Design Awards Program.
The Flying Pepper Cantina(Bellefontaine, OH) started out as a food truck and has grown into a sit-down restaurant featuring authentic Mexican cuisine, a tequila bar, and a private dining space. It was important to our client that the environment feel warm and real with tactile finishes and showcase an awesome collection of Otomi art pieces.