You're currently the director of design for Darden Restaurants. What drew you to this career?
Many years ago while working with Ed Hambrecht at FRCH Design Worldwide, he advised that if I truly wanted to understand what the retailer thinks and wants, I needed to become a merchant to appreciate both sides of the business. His advice started me on a journey to several of the most interesting retailing, entertainment, hospitality and, now, foodservice companies in existence today.
What did you learn about store design from working at The Limited Inc.?
That design is what you make it. There are unique challenges around every corner and it’s up to you to pull from all resources to create an appropriate solution.
What lesson did you take with you from your work at Disney?
Working at Disney affords you the opportunity to imagine far beyond your wildest dreams. I learned to focus on the guests and the importance of their experience. I also learned to spend wisely on those little jewels that the guest will find amazing.
How are the store design rules different between specialty retail and food?
Restaurant design is a balance between what is seen and experienced by the guests and what happens outside of their view. The design team must not only effectively design a front-of-house experience, but create an efficient operating kitchen. Without this successful balance, it’s unlikely a guest will return for a second visit.
How are they the same?
As a designer, you want to create a memorable experience so your guest will want to come back again and again.
When you’re not in the office, how do you relax?
I’m a competitive swimmer from way back and have recently starting helping out with my son’s high school swim team. There’s nothing more satisfying than teaching young boys and girls something you are passionate about.
What’s the best part about living in Florida?
Never shoveling snow again.
I really miss the changing of the seasons. To adapt, we’ve been creative. The first year we lived here, we turned the AC down, started a fire in the fireplace and painted snowflakes and drifts on the windows so Christmas morning was special for the kids.
Last book you read?
Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol.”
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day tradition?
Eating leftovers. There’s nothing better than a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich.
Sidebar: Taylor’s Palate Pleasers
•The Funky Monkey Wine Café in Orlando.
It’s a unique combination of fabulous food from Mediterranean to pan-Asian, not to be outdone by the decor of this small, one-room café.
•A cheese coney from Skyline Chili. The challenge is that I can’t eat just one and I no longer live in Cincinnati.
•Buckeye candies. I’m an Ohio boy at heart!