Divided by design

Stylish partitions go beyond Plexiglas

Stylish dividers add character while keeping guests safe at The Heatley. Photo courtesy of The Heatley

Plexiglas is so 2020.

With dividers now the norm in restaurants and bars, more places are getting creative with their pandemic shields. As long as partitions are “washable, rigid and impermeable” and measure at least 1.2 metres from the tabletop, pretty much anything goes.

The Heatley’s Michael Brennan tracked down vintage windows to better suit the interior of the cozy Strathcona pub. “I was standing in line at Home Depot with $1,000 worth of Plexiglas and it just hit me: I can’t put this stuff up; it’s hideous,” he says.

Instead, Brennan sourced rustic panes from Dragonfly Antiques in Ladner, his mother-in-law’s property on Salt Spring Island, and from a collector friend who happened to have some handy from a Langley farm. Some, he framed; he used others to construct a garden arbour over a booth.

The neon pink divider at Chickadee Room reflect the venue’s character. Photo courtesy of The Chickadee Room

The dividers at the Chickadee Room had to be functional and safe, but co-owners Justin Tindall and Bryan Satterford didn’t want them to be austere or boring. Once they had procured the Plexi, the two went thrift shopping, turning up old doors and window panes. Then they got out the spray paint. “This was the fun part,” Tisdall says. A framed glass door in neon pink divides individual tables, while a window pane painted Juke green and neon pink, along with floral hand “fans,” is in place on the communal high-top. To separate the takeout area from the dining room is a wall with glass blocks and a neon sunset decal.

“Our whole concept was to give the Chickadee Room its own identity and a bit of an ’80s vibe, but modernized,” Tisdall says.

The dividers at Pourhouse are inspired by Prohibition. Photo courtesy of Pourhouse

Brian Tait, a Vancouver-based industrial designer, constructed the partitions at Pourhouse under the creative direction of the Kitchen Table Restaurants. (A former yacht interior millworker, Tait pivoted to make restaurant dividers at the start of the pandemic with his company, Vancouver Plastic.)

He drew inspiration from the Prohibition era, aiming to create the feeling of being transported to a 1930s speakeasy, where the bartender slides open a door to pass through an outlawed cocktail to guests in their own private space at the bar.

—by Gail Johnson

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