The beachside strip of West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes, Minn., is easily one of the summer’s hottest lakeside destinations. It’s home to Lakeshirts, Lakeside Tavern & Brewery, Zorbaz, The Pavilion and a slew of beach bums ready to relax and bury their toes in the sand. Last summer, the strip got a little hotter with the opening of Hub41, a new restaurant designed by Chris Hawley Architects and owners Gretchen and Nate Hunter. See how this team created the perfect beach bum hang out with a stunning rooftop view and eclectic surf and turf menu.
Taking advantage of an old water park site that had been sitting vacant, owners Gretchen and Nate Hunter, set their sights on creating a new concept in beach dining. Just a stone’s throw away from their other property, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, this corner spot on the strip would provide a beach bum experience worth the drive. Wanting a casual beach vibe and killer lake views, the two recruited the help of Fargo’s Chris Hawley Architects to design their vision, and Detroit Lakes contractor, Josh Lessman, to build it.
Creating a Concept
When the Hunters built the nearby hotel, Fairfield Inn & Suites, they left a pad site that was originally intended for a single-story building. “The only stipulation was that it had to be 3,800 square feet on one level. We actually went back to the county and asked if we could split it into two – that would put us at 1,800 square feet on each level,” said architect Chris Hawley. “We just saw that on the first level, you can kind of see the lake, but mainly the view is of parking and boats. If we added a second level, guests would be able to take in the entire view of Detroit Lakes. In this project, the design had to more about the view than the building.”
For Chris Hawley Architects, their design process started with a little outside inspiration. “We looked at ideas from a restaurant in Minnetonka that they liked – there were also a few residential projects that they thought were funky and pretty cool,” said Hawley. “I think the one thing they wanted was to differentiate themselves by not having the classic cabin forms you’d expect. They didn’t want the cutesy cottage feel – they wanted it to be more contemporary and edgy and just have a little more fun with it in terms of design”
“Really the whole project was about creating the perfect rooftop patio,” explained Hawley. “So, when you look at it, the design’s success is determined by having as many people sit outside as possible. This is a year-round restaurant, but like all lake restaurants, their whole livelihood is based on three months of having access to the exterior.”
Hot Curb Appeal
On the exterior, a sleek, contemporary design, bold pops of mod color and a tiki bar-type patio are bound to lure you in. But, look a little closer and you’ll see an ancient Japanese technique. The black siding is all charred wood, also known as shou sugi ban. “The owners actually did the charring. The beautiful thing about it is that once you char it, it has natural weather, rot and UV resistance, so you basically don’t have to touch it again. Bugs don’t like it and creatures don’t like to live in it.”
To fabricate the exterior signage using steel and exposed bolts, Chris Hawley Architects employed a hefty foundation to ensure stability for the massive, backlit logo.
Like many larger lakes, the wind can take a toll on anything near the shoreline. With a rooftop patio plan in place, the team needed to ensure that guests would get a calm dining experience versus being literally blown away. “Rooftop patios are great, but if you’re getting drilled by the wind, nobody is going to enjoy it. To solve this, we used black glass as a windbreaker about five-feet in the air. When you’re sitting up there, you feel pretty tucked in and it gives you a nice little break from the wind,” said Hawley.
Creating the perfect destination for beachgoers meant designing a bar and dining experience that would be fun, creative and non-fussy – a place where flip-flops and beach towels would be welcomed attire.
Guests will find a crisp white palette with details like black plywood with cedar strips, industrial plumbing pipe, exposed I-beams, a corner fireplace, a contemporary twist on sliding barn doors and birch bench seating. “The details are pretty fun, they did some really great workmanship and yet it’s not fussy, it’s simple and creative,” said Hawley. “Josh Lessman did all of the construction on this project – he did a really great job, especially considering it was a very fast-track kind of project – we started in Nov and it was open by May of last year.”
“This is obviously a fun strip down in Detroit Lakes and a building like nothing else on the beach.”
Chris Hawley, Chris Hawley Architects
Embracing the Outdoors
To bring the outside in, the design playfully utilizes the exterior siding elements and cedar slat detailing. Both levels feature an overhead garage door making the exterior and interior a unified space. “The cool thing is that no matter where you’re sitting in the bar, you’re looking at the lake,” said Hawley. “Instead of your back turned to the water and the bartender looking out, it’s the opposite. This is obviously a fun strip down in Detroit Lakes and a building like nothing else on the beach.”
“The one thing about doing an overhead door is that you can’t do anything overhead, so you have really limited storage in that area. The cedar slat details were one of the solutions to get as much storage as we can in a space that is occupied by an overhead door,” said Hawley. “The exterior siding became storage shelving for the bottles, glasses and other bar items.”
If you’d rather grab a booth, the dining areas offer plenty of natural light and interesting design details to create a true beachside experience. “This is just a really durable design and a little wear and tear will only give it more character. The blue material panel is all technically, exterior siding, but we’re using it in a pretty economical way,” said Hawley.
“In other areas, the same siding that we painted blue, we just painted black and screwed on the batton. I think of it like the rainscreen is the black panel, but then the wood is kind of the armor. This project is a very economical approach to design. It really takes common materials and uses them in a very creative way, but not breaking the budget.”
On the Menu:
If you think the design is creative, just wait until you experience their menu featuring weekend breakfast, lunch and dinner. “They have really good food, with kind of a funky menu – I’d say it’s a modern interpretation of a surf and turf,” said Hawley. For a taste of what Hub41 offers lunch and dinner guests, starters include the falafel, California sushi rolls, sweet potato nachos, Cajun shrimp bucket, Scotch eggs and lobster fries. Dinner will definitely delight with eclectic entrees like the shrimp po’ boy, muffuletta, chicken and waffles along with gnocchi mac and cheese, fish and chips and bangers and mash.
Find the Finishes:
Architecture & Interior Finishes – Chris Hawley Architects
Project Manager – Wayne Schommer, Chris Hawley Architects
Contractor – Josh Lessman, Ledgestone, Inc.
For more information, contact:
104 West Lake Drive, Detroit Lakes
Chris Hawley Architects
2534 University Dr #3, Fargo
421 West Main Suite 104, Detroit Lakes