You may expect to see Perlick equipment in use at your local bar or restaurant and in huge arenas across the United States, but we are also very experienced in servicing mid-size entertainment and hospitality venues like casinos, hotels, and smaller concert halls. The pandemic has certainly made things interesting and challenging for these industries, but exciting new projects are still happening, and operators cannot wait to welcome back full-size crowds when it is safe to do so.

We recently spoke with Tim McDougald, a design consultant and project manager for Clevenger Associates. Clevenger was founded 45 years ago, and has long been a premier international hospitality, food service and laundry design and consulting organization. They pride themselves on being in touch with the latest concepts/trends in menus, food preferences, equipment, sustainability, utility conservation and techniques in food handling.

The Importance of Design

Many of our blogs focus on Perlick products, because let’s admit it, there are a lot of great things to talk about! However, today we want to focus on what goes into the design of a project involving our equipment. Tim has some great insight and was nice enough to take a few minutes to speak with us about his process, and how he has adjusted during the pandemic.

Tell us about your role at Clevenger, and why you got into this line of work?

I have been with Clevenger for about 6 1/2 years now. I handle a lot of our B&I projects, hotels, casinos and a few restaurants. I coordinate the designs with the production team and oversee the documentation of said projects, then handle the construction administration phase. I came from the architectural side, and from construction before that, so my “path” has been an odd one. I came here because I have a passion for Revit and 3D design, plus I love food! I love cooking, creating dishes and the whole community that gathers around food and a good meal. This position is the perfect mix of a lot of things I am very passionate about.

You primarily work on commercial construction. What are some of the hottest design trends right now?

Had you asked me about trends last year I would have pointed to the shift to display cooking. COVID has changed things somewhat, but at the same time it has only reenforced some of those things. There has been for some time, a shift to what I would call “transparency in preparation.” People want to know where their food is coming from, and that goes for more than just what farm the chicken came from or so on. In the post-COVID world they now demand to know exactly where their food is at all times. They want to visually see that you are treating it properly, that nothing is being hidden. This was already in play after some of the large chain incidents such as E-coli outbreaks and such, but more-so now than ever before. Those who are dining out demand ultimate transparency, because everyone is on edge about every tiny detail now.

Tell us about the two main projects you recently worked on that feature Perlick products: The Puyallup Casino & the Crabtree Kitchen + Bar.

Let’s start with the Puyallup Casino, officially named Emerald Queen Casino I-5. This is a brand-new build-out of a rather large casino in Tacoma, Washington (my current home). Our scope was comprised of all foodservice facilities within the casino, which include a 24-hour restaurant (Puyalapabs Café), a deli venue (Waterway Deli), a sports bar and kitchen (Summit Sports Bar), an espresso and pastry venue (Paddle Wheel Coffee & Bakery), a buffet (Riverbank Express), the “Casino Center Bar,” the “High Limits” Bar, 3 casino service bars, 2 event center bars, the employee dining room and a very large food warehouse. That was all a single project!

The other one was Crabtree Kitchen + Bar and Chocmo Chocolatier. This was another brand-new build-out of a restaurant and bar on the second floor and a full chocolate shop and espresso/diner on the first floor, located in Poulsbo, Washington. Our scope included the espresso/diner portion of “ChocMo” and the kitchen and bar of Crabtree Kitchen + Bar.

Why did you select Perlick for the bars you were designing?

We like the flexibility Perlick provides, plus the options for lighting and custom finishes on some key items like backbar coolers and dispensing towers. We often work with some high-end customers and they have specific needs such as craft cocktails. The Tobin Ellis Signature Cocktail Station works very well in those applications and we have had good results with that. Plus, I sometimes like to do some crazy things with dispensing towers, like hanging them from the ceiling or something. Perlick never hesitates when I come up with something crazy like that.

What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of these projects?

The most challenging part of the Emerald Queen was probably just the sheer scale of the project. I say that, but I am currently managing an even bigger project now, so I guess it’s all relative right? It was by far the biggest project I had ever managed up to that point, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. The rewarding part was seeing it all come together and getting to visit the space and look at what we designed. Also, hearing all the comments from the rest of the design team about my dispensing towers, everyone loved them, they really look great in the spaces and I take pride in knowing that the little details that we pay attention to as foodservice designers can and do impact the experience of the space. Even little things, like choosing the right beer tower, or doing something truly unique with it.

We know the pandemic is affecting EVERYTHING. How is it specifically affecting your/our industry?

We have seen a massive shift away from customer accessed stuff like salad bars, soda machines… you’re just not allowed to touch anything now. Current restrictions are really putting the brakes on the bar industry, where we are not allowed to seat customers at the bar and they can’t even open unless they also sell food. So that has been a huge thing and I’m not sure how we move past it right now or how we keep those establishments from going out of business.

Why do you like working with Perlick? Would you recommend others check us out?

I find that the Perlick team is just fun to work with, and they provide amazing support. Any info I need they get right back to me in a timely manner. Any time I want to do something really crazy they are totally on board and encourage me to run with it. Those are the things I look for in a partner, when I go off the deep end are you coming with me, or are you going to say no? And, like I said, it has to be fun, because if I can’t have fun then I’m not doing it.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Being involved in designing spaces that feed people. I am a firm believer that food brings everyone together, regardless of race, creed, color, background, wealth, social status or whatever else you come up with. When people sit down to enjoy a good meal together it brings us together in a way nothing else can. Knowing that I had some part in that, somewhere, is a huge thing for me.

Wow, thanks Tim! We can tell how passionate you are about your job, and we feel the same way. It’s always fun to work with a designer who likes to push the envelope, and we are prepared to come along for the ride.