The Library of Birmingham, which was a finalist for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award in 2014 is Europe’s largest library and cost nearly £190 million to build.
The building, which was designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo and has welcomed millions of visitors through its doors since it was officially opened by Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in 2013, has become iconic, so it was only fitting that its two cafés were also distinctive.
The Library Café on the ground floor, which has a mezzanine above with panoramic views of Centenary Square and the Discovery Café on level 3, where you can take refreshments onto Discovery Terrace, are operated and managed by award-winning caterer Amadeus.
When it came to fitting the cafes, Amadeus wanted serveries that would allow the cafes to be flexible while mirroring the library’s look, commissioning Nuttalls to design, manufacture and install bespoke servery and back counters, as well as supply specialist catering equipment.
Featuring granite tops, Nedzink profiled valances and illuminated stainless steel plinths, the serveries incorporate chilled display drop-ins, ambient display areas, hot food drop-ins with induction chafing dishes, soup modules and drinks chillers.
The combination means the cafes can merchandise different types of take away and eat in products, hot and cold, at the same time, from freshly made breakfast yoghurts, pastries, muffins and porridge with fruit and cream or maple syrup to deli sandwiches, pasta, salads, wraps and rolls, cakes and desserts, soups, vegetarian dishes and chilled drinks.
Crucially, the layout is designed to avoid bottlenecks and ensure a smooth flow of service at busy times. Food and Beverage Manager Marc Frankl said:
It allows us to offer a dual offering – grab and go at the top, which is monitored at peak times, and then a main counter.
The way it is designed is great for interacting with customers as they come down the queue and their food is being prepared. We serve a lot of families and this personal approach works well for this demographic, plus we have a lot of visitors pass through the library to get to the adjoining Repertory theatre and Symphony Hall and an interactive counter allows us to ‘sell’ the city. It’s very personal, homely almost, even though the finish itself is very contemporary.
Ultimately, this is no ordinary library – we even have a Champagne bar on one of the floors – and the high quality serveries reflect the overall approach to this cultural destination. We pride ourselves on tailoring our offering for each individual venue and its customers, working with suppliers such as Nuttalls to ensure we deliver the very best in food and service.
Already recognised as one of the UK’s leading shopfitters, The Alan Nuttall Partnership Ltd specialises in interior fit-out, main and principal contracting, retail display design, manufacture and installation of fixtures, signage, foodservice and refrigeration equipment for retail, commercial, hospitality, leisure, foodservice and the public sector.