Jeff Spicoli as design inspiration?
It's totally true, dude.
Visit Superba Snack Bar in Venice and you'll find touches of the legendary character from the 1982 Sean Penn flick "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" here and there. That's because Paul Hibler, who owns Superba as well as the Pitfire Pizza restaurants, hired architects Rebecca Rudolph and Cathy Johnson, who said they hung photos of Spicoli alongside pictures of Paris cafes for inspiration.
The finished restaurant is much like their preliminary design board: Superba has the feel of an indoor-outdoor Parisian cafe with a surfer chic that is distinctly Californian.
Because of the restaurant's small size -- the dining room is only 700 square feet -- Rudolph said she had to use the outside patio as much as possible.
"We wanted to maintain the visual connection between the interior and outside and back out on to the street and the neighborhood," she said. "We wanted a feeling of community and activity."
The architects created that neighborly vibe by adding custom communal tables, an open-air kitchen and a long bench along the sidewalk.
"People like to sit on edges," Johnson said. "We fit eight people out there in a corner one night."
Look closely and you will see that the bench has been sided with aqua blue pool tiles grouted in dark gray. "We love the graphic pattern," Rudolph said. "The dark grout gives it a distinct pattern. It makes the outdoor patio feel like a wading pool."
Inside, a clever wooden banquette was designed to conserve space and allow for storage. The seat lifts up to reveal bottles of wine.
Like on the bench outside, pleather covers the banquette cushion. Six-inch square pool tiles were installed along the base to lend some quirkiness. Rudolph said the back of the seat was extended up to exaggerate the silhouette and upholstered in a Spicoli-style textile: Mexican surfer beach blankets.
"I bought the blankets on the Venice Beach boardwalk and walked them back to the restaurant in a plastic garbage bag," Johnson said, laughing. The blankets are also scattered throughout the restaurant for decoration and a touch of unpretentious comfort.
A cabinet fabricator made the banquette, but the architects said it could be an inexpensive DIY project for readers.
Johnson and Rudolph, who work under the firm name Design, Bitches, installed black corrugated metal on the exterior of the restaurant for a tough look. It's softened by more delicate features inside, including brass lighting, touches of pink paint and a wall lined with a custom run of Geoff McFetridge wallpaper from Pottok Prints. The pattern -- holding hands -- furthers the community theme.
It all comes together to reflect a diverse neighborhood and menu, just blocks from the beach.
Spicoli would approve.
Corrected: An earlier version of this story misspelled Ridgemont.