Opening Up To Experience

Window and door selection parallels hospitality industry trends.

When Malarkey’s Pub and Townies Grill in Wausau, WI, opened, it occupied what previously had been two separate but connected locations. The building had been divided and built-out in the 1960s for various retail businesses, offices, and restaurants. Kolbe’s folding windows were chosen as a replacement to the previously inefficient single-pane glass storefront windows. Design plans included elevating the tables along the windows to give customers an even better view of the downtown park’s activities. When there are concerts in the summer, the windows are opened for everyone to enjoy the music. Retractable screens help keep bugs out while bringing in the fresh air.

The hospitality industry is about experience. Not just one aspect, but all of it. For example, dining out isn’t exclusively about the cuisine. The experience can be enhanced by the ambiance and aesthetics of the venue. Window and door manufacturer Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork, Wausau, WI, has identified a number of trends that reflect how patrons’ desires for a distinctive tone and memorable experience can be influenced by the judicious selection and placement of windows and doors.

Depending on its location, views may be the number-one consideration for hospitality spaces. Whether a property looks to the mountains, ocean, or something in between, the goal of windows and doors is often to frame a spectacular view. Kolbe sees its contemporary VistaLuxe Collection, which has a good frame-to-daylight ratio, used often to frame nature’s beauty.

Cincinnati’s historical Metropole Hotel has been re-outfitted and re-imagined for the 21st century. 21c Museum Hotel is a multi-venue contemporary art museum, a boutique hotel, and home to Metropole restaurant. With the building listed on the National Register, a meticulous design team worked to restore the character of the once grand hotel while concurrently creating a space to showcase the work of today’s artists. Kolbe’s Sterling double-hung windows help replicate traditional style, while providing updated energy efficiency.

Similarly, merging indoor and outdoor spaces continues to be a main focus in the hospitality industry. Folding windows and doors, sliding windows, and numerous expansive-opening doors are options to help combine indoor and outdoor spaces. This is especially useful in restaurant applications. With as much as 52 ft. of viewing area, folding windows can open up spaces immensely. Folding and sliding windows are also beneficial in pass-through situations, such as a bar to an outdoor seating area. Building owners are even adding countertops to allow patrons to enjoy the weather, indoors or out.

Another trend that impacts the hospitality industry is historical replication. Older buildings have incredible history, but need upgrades to help them look and perform at their best. An example is the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati. A meticulous design team worked to restore the character of this historical building for 21st century functionality. The upgraded building now houses a contemporary art museum, a boutique hotel, and a restaurant. Kolbe windows were chosen to replicate historical details while providing improved energy efficiency over the original windows.

At the Red Eye Brewing Company, Wausau, WI, artisan beer and food are served. This sustainable design project features a wood-burning oven and solar thermal hot-water system. Kolbe’s Ultra Series awning windows allow ventilation above the stationary picture windows. Chutney fluoropolymer finish creates a striking exterior, along with 3 1/2-in. flat extruded aluminum casing. The main entrance doors have glass lites and raised panels, custom moulding, and commercial hardware. The French doors that open out to the patio feature full glass lites and 1 1/8-in.-wide PDL bars.

Guests and restaurant patrons want more than just an appealing venue and a satisfying meal. Sustainable, locally grown, and farm-to-table are keywords in the restaurant industry, and sustainability can also translate to windows and doors. New restaurants often focus on being as sustainable as possible, as seen in examples such as growing their own herbs and vegetables and using solar panels. Wood windows, with species sourced from managed forests, are a sustainable option for restaurants and hotels. Efficient windows and doors help reduce the amount of energy required to heat or cool buildings, and thereby mitigate costs.

Patrons also want more than a cookie-cutter dining experience. Customization is king in the hospitality setting, specifically in restaurants. The aim of providing a one-of-a-kind dining experience means restaurants are popping up in some unlikely places, notably previously used warehouses and other industrial spaces. Custom windows and doors can add to the unique atmosphere. Adding openings with bright exterior colors contributes to interest and personality for previously lackluster buildings. Similarly, options for interior wood species, stains, and paints allow windows and doors to make a significant impact on the interior ambiance of a restaurant.

For more than 135 years, The Ocean House resort hotel in Watch Hill, RI, offered one of New England’s most spectacular ocean views. After a three-year renovation, its warm, yellow façade re-opened to welcome hotel guests and residents to their 72 rooms, five restaurants, croquet court, and oceanfront beaches. Improvements to this coastal property included enhancing its structural integrity and hurricane-force protection. Kolbe Sterling double-hung windows replicate traditional details, including curved glass in the sitting room.

Clearly, designing a restaurant or hotel without careful consideration of fenestration options would be a costly mistake.


— View a gallery of window applications.

— Explore the VistaLuxe collection.

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