By Barney Wolf, Full-Service Restaurants Magazine, January 2016

Raku in the Cathedral Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., relied on imagination to stay under its design budget.

Sometimes decisions born in compromises end up as great ideas.

Restaurant owners don’t like to make concessions, especially when it comes to the quality of food or the overall comfort of guests.

But give-and-take is part of doing business, especially when the cost for opening a new restaurant is running well above budget. That’s when imagination comes into play.

For the owners of Raku in Washington, D.C., it took ingenuity and some value engineering on the part of the contractor and designer to deal with mounting costs, which continued to grow while planning was underway for the Japanese eatery’s third unit in the city’s Cathedral Heights neighborhood.

“There are times we have to fool the eye and maintain the wallet,” says Rob Mescolotto, president/owner of Hospitality Construction Services. “In changing the materials to be cost-effective, the perceived differences here are negligible.”

In all, costs were shaved about 30 percent to come in at $1.2 million.