The Leo Restaurant, located in Cinema City, Jerusalem, is a fashionable, new chef restaurant and lounge bar, owned by chef Eran Ben Arush, and designed by renowned Israeli designer, Nir Yefet.
The restaurant combines a modern French cuisine with ethnic-Jerusalem cuisine. The sources of inspiration for Nir’s exclusive restaurant design include gardens, courtyards, outdoor elements and an integration of interior and exterior design. What led Nir Yefet to select this concept was the fact that most of the external walls of the restaurant are clear, plate glass windows through which one obtains a 360° view of Jerusalem’s unique landscape. Using this to advantage, Nir wished to integrate indoors with outdoors.
With this in mind, materials were selected and the site was completely redesigned from ground up – the floor tiles selected for the restaurant are more customarily seen in outdoor patios and yards, the lighting fixtures are specially and organically designed and seem to extend naturally from the ceiling and from the unique carpentry work.
All of the carpentry work is of free design, with eclectic character, a combination of styles, different types of accessories and a semblance of disorder, inspired by old garden sheds seen in backyards and public parks, built eclectically from parts collected and formed into a structure. Nir designed the carpentry work in a non-symmetrical style, integrating different door designs and door handles with a combination of wood shutters, all conceived and built from scratch in the style of yard sheds.
The site also combines special painting techniques, so that painted surfaces or materials absorb the influence of being exposed to natural forces and climate, as if they really were outside.
The bar ceiling was painted with a special technique to resemble rust; the walls look aged and partially exposed, seemingly painted in layers over the years. The bar is constructed of exposed cement that Nir ordered cast on site, combined with custom-made and specially fitted diagonal LED lighting fixtures that resemble plants growing naturally in the wild.
At the entrance, individually designed artificial trees have been planted in large pots of exposed cement. Above the bar is a magnificent display of bottled alcohol designed by Nir Yefet, inspired by the shape of live plants, branches and trees in nature.
The kitchen wall and huge glass-metal window have also been painted in shades of rust with a special, innovative technique using acid. The restaurant has two VIP rooms; the first room seats up to 40 people, and is entirely surrounded by transparent glass walls to enable the desired privacy for a private party, without blocking the magnificent view seen by restaurant diners seated at any location in the room. In addition, an airy dividing wall constructed of five high shutters installed on a 360° revolving shaft outside the VIP room, isolates it from the restaurant and grants privacy to diners, again, without blocking the view.
The second VIP room is smaller and contains a unique massive wood table seating 10. The room is partially open to the outdoors, but in a manner which still ensures privacy, via a special design combining wood, metal and glass. The room is closed off by folding shutters for further privacy if desired. Above the table in the VIP room, hang two specially designed chandeliers exquisitely constructed of glass wine bottles into which the light fixtures have been cleverly inserted.
The important idea in the design was to grant both diners and employees a functional space that is both comfortable and inviting, but also offering an experience where at any point in time all of one’s senses (including taste) are stimulated by all the design elements from every seat in the restaurant. A restaurant is a very functional concept, but in this exciting location, your sense of sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing will always be stimulated with the most pleasurable of results for all.
Images © Itai Aviran and Anatoli Michaelo