This project brings detail and materiality to a challenging 1921 manufacturing shell to create a provocative atmosphere for gathering on Main St. Designed by Protz Studio, a Tucson-based husband-and-wife architecture and design practice, Chez Tex is a husband-and-wife owned bistro that invites in the Venice neighborhood.
To enjoy the beach climate and create day/night flexibility, the boundary between street and interior is thickened into a chance place to wait as well as host additional seating for events. An accessible ramp is incorporated into the experience along with floor-to-ceiling steel and glass folding doors to allow in light and ocean breezes. An unusually clean, hovering ceiling disguises lighting and mechanical services, and its reflective finish bounces light deep into the space. The dining space preserves a palette of brick, steel, wood, and concrete original to the space, and adds compatible elements in the form of a concrete bar and curb with wood seat, wood shelving, & wood tables on steel legs.
A thin window in the steel-clad kitchen volume offers a peek of the chef, but the most unexpected moment is in back. Each bathroom is a flourish of vibrant color: cove-lit white, blue, and yellow ombre tiled walls immerse one in emergent patterns. Designed, screen printed and fired by Protz Studio, the ceramic tile installations are completely unique to the restaurant. Composed of singular tiles, the overall pattern was left to the discretion of the installer following a few simple rules of orientation and adjacency. The subtle white-on-white stencil - also custom-designed - along the wall of the dining space follows this concept as well, its pattern a play on drywall mud strokes. With a small number of elements and few nods to tradition, this project creates moments of surprise on a tight budget.