3 Examples of Value Engineering in Restaurant Interior Design

Creating a unique and inviting interior design concept is incredibly important for restaurants and cafes. Owners want their customers to feel comfortable and relaxed. They also want the décor to be recognizable and unique to the brand’s identity.

We help our restaurant customers execute custom-made interior designs, such as branded mosaic focal walls and custom light fixtures, but in ways that won’t break the bank.

The Ceiling as Art

Forget white drop ceiling tiles. Have you looked up in a restaurant lately? A big trend is using the ceiling as part of the décor. From intricate light fixtures to murals and mosaics, ceilings can be a great place to express the restaurant’s individuality.

Our restaurant client in Florence, Kentucky, wanted to tap into this trend with custom, dragon-themed overhead fixtures, but it would cost them several thousand dollars to replace their current fixtures.

Our solution: Rather than purchasing new light fixtures, we repurposed the restaurant’s three-foot-diameter fixtures. We removed the acrylic in the fixtures, took it back to our shop, and made a cut file that would fit perfectly. We then printed a new dragon-logoed acrylic and laid it back into the existing lights.

Retro Elegance

Another interior design trend in restaurants is the return to a retro-style décor. Not overwhelming, like the original 1970’s Brady Bunch house, but elegant, mixing modern designs with period pieces. Classic round penny tile, for example, is back in full force.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, our client’s new restaurant concept had a design plan that called for a dazzling focal wall made with genuine penny rounds, which would then be hand-painted with the restaurant’s logo. However, it was going to be labor- and time-intensive for the contractors to execute. The wall was 50′ wide by 16′ high – more than 800 square feet of tiling and painting.

Our solution: We mimicked the look and texture of the penny tile using 4 x 8 sheets of PVC. We printed the logo directly on the PVC, and the bright, white focal wall covering was much easier and faster to install.

Industrial Chic

Another trend in restaurant interior décor is the popularity of an industrial look, with steel details and exposed lights.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, our client’s concession café was going to have the relaxed industrial vibe of a repurposed shipping container. However, the specially cut corrugated metal arrived in the color red instead of blue. Placing a new order was going to cause a significant time delay that the project could not afford.

Our solution: Luckily, we have a nearly 200,000 square foot manufacturing facility and superb craftsmen. We repurposed the red metal in another building area, so it wouldn’t go to waste. We then custom cut and rounded new corrugated metal sheets to fit the concession stand as initially intended and painted it blue. Finally, we provided outside, inside, and top corner pieces to finish the café and give it a clean and polished look.

At CIP Retail, our in-house manufacturing capabilities and understanding of materials cost allow us to provide valuable solutions to our restaurant clients. So whether you need to implement a new interior design package in just one restaurant or across an entire chain, we can help. Contact us today.

Creative Uses for Printing in Retail Store Interior Design

Whether you’re remodeling an existing store or building a new concept from the ground up, interior design is a significant component of your brand and budget. Printing is no longer just for point-of-purchase displays and wayfinding signage. With ingenuity, craftsmanship, and the right partner, you can use printing as an integral part of the process of building a truly immersive and on-trend retail space.

Creating warm, welcoming spaces

Shoppers and diners are demanding a more “home-like” feel to their retail experience. This demand has led to a tremendous increase in interior design plans that call for warmer palettes, lighter hues, and more texture and dimension in the space.

Exposed brick features and walls clad in natural materials like warm wood planks or shiplap are just a few ways designers incorporate this trend into grocery store designs, restaurant designs, and more. However, both brick and solid wood planks are heavy, complicated, and time-consuming to install.

With today’s photo-realistic printing technology, though, you can create a nearly identical look to natural wood using printing. We run up to 15 rolls of wall vinyl per week that can easily be installed in strips like wallpaper, but from a distance have both the look and texture of actual brick or wood.

Creating transportive designs

Another common trend in retail store interior design is to create an “experience” that draws customers in and makes them feel like they are someplace else.

The farmers’ market look is quite popular in supermarket interior design. The décor evokes the feeling of fresh air, fresh produce, and friendly faces. The style frequently uses galvanized metal accents, distressed wood signs, and lots of wooden crates.

Crating material is frequently made of oriented strand board (OSB), formed out of compressed layers of wood strands. Unfortunately, you can’t really run OSB through printers due to the quality of the substrate, so if you want to put logos or lettering on this material, you typically have to stamp it or hand-paint it. However, at CIP Retail, we can print text and graphics, along with a background pattern that looks precisely like OSB, on particle board to provide the same look.

We can also print on corrugated metal to create branded awnings and unique wall art.

CIP Retail has the experience and know-how to produce nearly anything you can imagine for your retail interior space design by combining the latest state-of-the-art technology with unmatched craftsmanship. Contact us today to learn more.

Q&A with CIP Retail’s Creative Director

Specializing in creating permanent and semi-permanent retail store signage and décor means that Matthew Valerius, Creative Director at CIP Retail, is particularly mindful of the role scale and proportion play in design. If not executed correctly in his business, what a designer envisioned as a transportive retail backdrop could end up making shoppers feel out of sorts.

1. How long have you been with CIP Retail?

Matthew: I started designing here in 2013, so eight and a half years. I now manage a team of half a dozen designers. Some projects we create from start to finish, and others come from third-party design firms. Regardless, we touch every project in some way, shape, or form. Whether it is our design or an outside firm, we are responsible for executing the design intent and ensure each project is correctly translated from paper to production.

2. What is a transportive design?

Matthew: A transportive design makes you feel like you are someplace else. This is common in theme parks and theater set design, and it’s also important in supermarket store design to create an “experience” that draws customers in and invites them to stay awhile.

3. What are scale and proportion, and why are they so important in creating a transportive design?

Matthew: Scale and proportion are both design elements that have to do with size. With scale, I’m thinking about how an object designed on paper will look when manufactured into a two-dimensional or three-dimensional piece. For example, if a design plan calls for a simulated wood background, but the wood grains are drawn too large, it will look cartoonish when printed.

Proportion has to do with how an element is going to relate to other features in a space. For example, in a retail store, there are many different shapes, colors, textures, architecture, signage, fixtures, etc., competing for space. Therefore, it’s important to consider how each element will interact with the features around it.

4. What’s a common issue you see when taking a design from initial concept to final production?

Matthew: The most common issue has to do with material choices. We have the luxury of working alongside CIP’s production and manufacturing teams bringing designs to life. As a result, we are very aware of the yield of materials and the cost of materials when creating permanent and semi-permanent retail décor.

We may review design plans that call for genuine wood planking on walls 10 feet or more above the shoppers’ heads. It’s a beautiful look, but the choice of materials is often overkill. Instead, we might recommend printing a faux wood background on a vinyl wallcovering or a rigid PVC substrate to exude the same look and feel for a fraction of the price. When the material is that high above a shopper’s head it is much harder to discern real material from faux.

5. What’s an example of a décor package you’ve designed that you’ve been proud of?

Matthew: We redesigned the interior décor at Strack & Van Til food market in St. John, Indiana. I think this project is a good example of what we do well at CIP Retail. We changed the store’s look radically and affected significant changes to the space, but we did it with a light touch. A clean, edited décor package made the area feel much lighter, more inviting, and friendly. We also used a lot of faux wood grain and stone features that looked beautiful, will last for years but are easy to install, and much less expensive to manufacture.

Key West Vibes on the Loveland Bike Trail

If you’re looking for a bit of irreverent, subtropical ambiance in the heart of the Midwest, stop in at The Wicked Pickle on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

According to the restaurant’s owners, the name “The Wicked Pickle” is a mash-up of the popular Key West establishment The Wicked Lick and some cyclists on the Loveland Bike Trail who like to eat pickles and drink pickle juice. Unfortunately, the identities of these masked green riders have not yet been revealed on the restaurant’s website.

CIP Retail was hired to design and create new restaurant signage to adorn the outdoor dining area.

The playful island restaurant décor includes two 15” x 48” menu boards printed to look like old-fashioned chalkboards and iconic, wooden directional signage. It lets bikers know precisely how far away they are from their next adventure.

Cincinnati, 18 miles south. Key West itself, only 1,028 miles to go.

Manufacturing On-Trend Restaurant Décor for Buffalo Wings & Rings on a Budget

Buffalo Wings & Rings rolled out a new restaurant design at a brand-new location in Milford, Ohio, in the summer of 2020.

The redesign, in the works for many years, was ahead of its time. Even before COVID19 hit, Buffalo Wings & Rings recognized the changing habits of its customers. Part of their redesign was adding a valet pick-up area connecting directly to the back-of-house to help handle the increasing volume of off-premise orders.

Customers who were dining indoors also were demanding a different experience. They wanted more local flavor and a connection to the community.

They wanted more distinct dining areas with separation between those who wanted a family dining experience and those who wanted to hang out at the bar with friends. And they wanted more of a “home-like” feel to their experience with warmer palettes, lighter hues, and amenities like booths that featured their own TVs.

NELSON Worldwide, one of the largest architectural firms in Greater Cincinnati, designed the prototype restaurant. A high-end, club-level dining experience that incorporated all the top trends in restaurant design, including an abundance of texture, light, and local flavor for on-brand design and storytelling.

Buffalo Wings & Rings hired CIP Retail to take the design from concept to installation.


  • Fabricate and install all new interior décor for the new Buffalo Wings & Rings design prototype
  • Manufacture and construct the décor elements in a way that would be easily replicable and cost-efficient for Wings & Rings new builds planned across the U.S. and Mexico


  • 5,000 sq. ft. restaurant with distinct bar and lounge, traditional dining area, and outdoor dining area
  • 50′ wide x 16′ high logo focal wall that anchors the entire design of the restaurant

The Focal Wall Solution 

The bright white logo focal wall is one of the key pieces in the redesigned interior of Buffalo Wings & Rings. It’s crisp, clean, vibrant, and fun. It draws your eye toward the great local brews on tap at the bar, and it seamlessly connects the bar and traditional dining area into one cohesive space.

Not only does restaurant decor need to be highly functional – easy to clean and sanitize and able to stand up to traffic and spills – but it also needs to be aesthetically appealing to the eye. That’s why texture is such an essential part of restaurant interior design today.

The original design plan called for contractors to install genuine penny tiles on the focal wall, followed by hand-painting of the logo and other décor elements. However, it would be labor- and time-intensive for contractors to execute. The focal wall is 50′ wide by 16′ high – more than 800 square feet of tiling and painting.

This is where CIP Retail’s extensive knowledge of materials and manufacturing techniques came into play to develop a solution.

Using 4 x 8 sheets of Palboard® (a multi-layer board with a PVC surface and low-weight foam core), we were able to create a bright white, textured focal wall covering that could be installed much more quickly and cost-effectively. Palboard also is an excellent substrate for printing on, so the additional painting step could be eliminated.

The Results

The Wings & Rings logoed focal wall is the heart of the new Milford restaurant. At night, it’s so bright that you can see it clearly from the road as it beckons to patrons and welcomes them inside for a night of camaraderie and sports. It’s one of the most commented-on features by patrons and staff alike.

The prototype design proved successful, and Buffalo Wings & Rings is now rolling out this new prototype store to all its ground-up restaurant builds.

The solution CIP Retail came up with to economically and elegantly achieve the designer’s vision is easily replicable. CIP Retail is now producing the interior décor and signage elements for a new Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant in Campbellsville, Kentucky, and the chain’s first restaurant south of the border in Reynosa, Mexico.

New CFO helps take CIP Retail to new heights

At 5’11”, Christina Saner worries that her height works against her at times.

“The first impression most people have when they meet me is that I’m very intimidating. I’m 6’1” in heels. I’m really not [intimidating]. I’m just tall. I’m a big teddy bear,” says Saner.

What Christina is not worried about is the heights to which CIP Retail can grow its business.

“Right now, we specialize in the grocery category, but there is tremendous opportunity to grow our business to serve hotels, liquor stores, and gas stations, just to name a few.”

Christina joined CIP Retail two months ago as CFO. Born and raised in the Greater Cincinnati area, Christina certainly knows something about the opportunities that come from spreading your wings. Life’s adventures have taken her far – 2,280 miles to be exact – to the Yakima Valley in Washington state, where she worked as the VP of finance for a non-profit for many years.

But her first love is manufacturing. Christina’s career began at Tom Sumerel Tire in Newport, Kentucky. When she returned to the area after her adventures out west, she served seven years at Steinert, a Northern Kentucky manufacturer specializing in magnetic separation and sorting equipment to extract raw materials and correctly categorize recyclables.

Now that she’s joined CIP Retail, she’s excited to be a part of shaping the company’s strategic growth initiatives.

“I get the most enjoyment out of seeing employees grow and seeing an organization grow as a whole,” notes Christina.