You can buy that chair you're sitting on at Cucina Enoteca's online shop after dining at the restaurant.
That burlap-backed white dining chair? It's for sale at $306. The caged light fixtures with glass ornaments? $250. The metal-topped table with wood legs? From $750 to $1,750.
You can't buy these items off the floor at Cucina Enoteca, but you can peruse the décor and furniture menu (yes, there is such a thing), then place an order or buy the merchandise at the restaurant's online shop (www.urbankitchengroup.com/our-store).
The design of Cucina Enoteca is based on the interiors of its older sibling in San Diego, Cucina Urbana. But because of the more spacious quarters and higher ceilings at the Irvine, Calif., restaurant, the design is more dramatic and impactful.
By design, the midpriced eatery that opened in December also is a store that carries the same furniture, décor and wine that's used in the dining areas and bar.
To be sure, the concept of a restaurant having an adjacent shop is nothing new. The Tommy Bahama restaurants have always had adjoining stores that stock clothing and accessories. The market section of other restaurants sell cooking, baking and dining items.
Restaurants have long been great places to look for inspiration in décor, but it's uncommon for customers to buy a chair exactly like the one that they just sat on. Often, restaurant furniture and décor at stylish restaurants are custom-designed or made to order and are not readily available for purchase from a store or are simply too pricey for the average diner.
That's why from a purely retail standpoint, Cucina Enoteca's restaurant-as-showroom concept is novel. Tracy Borkum, owner of Urban Kitchen Group in San Diego, the parent company of Cucina Enoteca, came up with the idea after fielding frequent customer queries about where to buy the pendant lights or the chairs at Cucina Urbana in the Banker's Hill district of San Diego.
The Irvine restaurant looks like its older sibling, but with its larger quarters and mall location, the company had an ideal opportunity to flesh out and emphasize the store aspect, said Mike Rutherford, director of marketing and development for Urban Kitchen Group. And by store, Rutherford is referring to the furnishings and wine offerings.
At Cucina Enoteca, the wine shop is one of the first things that diners will encounter when they reach the host stand. Like the wines served at the table or sold at the shop, the furnishings are not extravagantly priced, considering that they are handcrafted, Rutherford said.
"The furniture is as reasonably priced as possible," he said.
There are multipurpose kitchen boards for $15 to $21 and a pair of salad serving utensils for $16. Kitchen towels with hand-printed themes such as rooster, cabbage or apple pie from Valentine Viannay are $19 apiece.
Borkum collaborates on the design with craftspeople and artists mostly in San Diego but also in other parts of California and Canada for the customized furniture and décor for the restaurant as well as for the replicas that are sold through the website and the furniture menu available at the host stand.
Diners aren't the only ones clamoring for the furniture.
"We've had inquiries from other restaurants," Rutherford said.