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Online Exclusive - Fishing with Dynamite, Los Angeles

Apr 24, 2014

By Erinn Waldo

“What resonates for me with this restaurant are the pieces that have stories behind them,” says David LeFevre, chef and owner of Fishing with Dynamite, a restaurant and oyster bar in Manhattan Beach, California. Taking after LeFevre’s love for the contrasting East and West coasts, the space recalls a nostalgic seafood house with a West coast vibe.


Inspired by a childhood spent on Chesapeake Bay and his current home on the Southern Californian coast, LeFevre wanted a restaurant that blended the old with the new. “We made a point not to fill the space with true vintage features so we didn’t look like we were trying to re-create an old oyster shack,” explains designer Julie Fisher of Chicago-based FC Studio, who led the interior design. The materials, particularly the lighting, give a nod to the vintage look but have more clean lines that better complement the white-slated walls and bright atmosphere. Large pendant fixtures hang over the banquettes, balancing the antique charm of Japanese lobster buoys LeFevre found on California’s Highway 1. “Since the buoys were used as something different than their original use, it felt appropriate and a bit more original for the space,” Fisher adds.


The artwork also brought in more of LeFevre’s memories of both coasts. “I found them over the years at flea markets, online, or at small shops that resonated with me personally,” he says. Japanese prints of octopus and tuna exude a handcrafted and a graphic look, along with quirky sayings and signs, some of which were done in-house with locally based visual communication specialists EYERUS. “It’s important to me that with such a tiny space, it all had to work together and couldn’t be too nautical or too Californian,” LeFevre says.


Floor tile fills the tight space with a colorful, modern print. “The tiling reminded me of an old Ocean Pacific T-shirt that I had growing up of a graphic blocked sunset,” LeFevre explains. Each tile is striped with orange, white, red, black, gray, and sky blue—the colors of a Californian sunset. “The floor really brings a smile to my face,” he says. “It was a risk we took that I feel is truly special.”


To add the understated East Coast feel, the design team balanced the bold flooring with whitewashed wood ceilings, walls, and bar fronts. “Since the floor has such a dominant pattern, we wanted to ensure that the only other place your eye was drawn to was the action at the bars,” Fisher says. The dark color and the build up edge of the bartops echo the dark beams that cross the ceiling slates.


Crossing the gap between the simple ceiling and the striking floor, the barstools and seating recall another of LeFevre’s memories. “I grew up with Eames chairs in my house and loved them,” he explains. “We thought mid-century modern would be a good transition from ceiling to floor.” The fiberglass molded Eames chairs, all with walnut bases, populate the restaurant to stagger that East/West coast blend.


“After all, the commonality between both the coasts are a love of the ocean and a love of its bounty,” says LeFevre. The chef took a cue from this mutual love in his choice of the restaurant name. “It’s a statement of something that has a predetermined outcome,” he explains. “Like how opening a great oyster house would be as easy as Fishing with Dynamite.”

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
Nielsen      Contract Design | Hospitality Design | K+BB | DDI

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