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Online Exclusive - Empire Restaurant, Boston

Jun 19, 2013

By Erinn Waldo

Imperial China and urban Asia join together at Boston’s Empire Restaurant. “The owners wanted Empire to be a premiere Asian-inspired venue, with more of a contemporary but vintage space,” says Boston-based designer Peter Niemitz. “It has almost a modern, old Shanghai type of feel, with a blend of new and old.”


With 14,000 square feet of space, Empire’s nine rooms each subtly showcase different traditional and modern styles. “We didn’t want one design throughout, so we have a series of different styles,” says Niemitz. Guests first encounter Empire’s eclectic mix in the 32-seat bar and lounge, where ceilings with detailed millwork add a touch of old architecture and an assortment of colorful seating spills out across the wood floors⎯⎯which imitate reclaimed scrubbed oak.

“The menu is more pan-Asian, so the design tends to be a little more global,” says Niemitz. Recalling Chinese spiritualism, oversized, backlit wooden moongates house the liquors behind an edge-lit bartop covered in a taupe marble. Stone tiles surround the bar, which is fronted with glass and metal filigree.


Shanghai’s China Club helped inspire the restaurant’s club-like appeal. “There’s a little bit of Shanghai mixed in, along with a very strong French high-end structure,” says Niemitz. Private dining areas⎯⎯including the Imperial and Persimmon rooms⎯⎯are outfitted with Imperial-style furniture, chandeliers, and carpets rich with images of dragons. Opaque glass walls⎯⎯detailed with sepia-colored mountain designs⎯⎯separate the rooms.

“The whole space is created as a traditional tray, a real mix, with the kitchen being the neutral space,” says Niemitz. An open kitchen includes an expo kitchen, noodle station, a Wok bar, and a sushi bar⎯⎯stylized with a turquoise baked-enamel stove hood and chunky wooden tables, along with aqua chandeliers and golden swirled carpets.


 Turquoise, robin’s egg blue, and yellow gold flow throughout Empire. “We didn’t want to do red and black, since it’s too cliché for Chinese design,” comments Niemitz. “We felt gold, aqua, and green were a more refreshing palette.”


Along with the palette, black lacquered materials and gilded metal, backlit columns unify the rooms. “These are motifs that are carried through the restaurant,” explains Niemitz. “The changes are in the look of the light fixtures. Each look has a different light fixture, though they are all Chinese.” The general mix of lights range from decorative lanterns to LED lighting and table lamps and candles.


“Empire is not trying to be thematic or vintage,” says Niemitz. “It’s applying classic design styles and motifs in a more contemporary venue.”


hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
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