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Pro Portfolio: The design story behind the new Manhattan Beach restaurant M.B. Post

Every Monday we usually post a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer. This week we look at a new restaurant with design elements that could translate in residential settings:

Designer: Stephen Francis Jones, SF Jones Architects, Marina del Rey. Contractor: Paul Kurz, PKJ Construction, (714) 658-8664. Graphics: Eyerus Visual Communication Studio, (323) 931-3753.

Project: M.B. Post  

Location: Manhattan Beach

Goal: To create a soulful social restaurant environment that resonates with the local beach-town community. 

Rest6 Designer’s description: The driving idea was to foster a connection between the local residents and the building site, giving the restaurant a sense of belonging within the community. The site had housed the Manhattan Beach Post Office from the 1950s through '70s.  A charming, vintage post office conjures an atmosphere where locals come to collect mail and run into friends in the neighborhood.  This was it: our connection to the community and inspiration for the eatery’s name.

Facilitated by the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, the rich history of the original post office served as a guiding foundation throughout the design process. After uncovering an old concrete wall beneath layers of remodeling, we reinvented it as a "mail room" wall, with markings detailing what we imagined the old mail collecting area would have looked like. Because the building was constructed with an old barrel-vaulted ceiling, exposing the original rafters helped tell the story of the post office. Revealing the bones of the building was achieved by removing soffits and reconfiguring beams to establish a spatial connection between dining and bar areas. 

The walls were constructed with reclaimed barn wood, sporadically adorned with planks of wood faux-painted like the lifeguard stands and colorfully-customized volleyball posts that line the beach. An old 1954 bicycle reinvented as a unique light fixture, above, dresses up a wall partition. Large sliding steel and glass doors were installed along the building's facade to open the dining room to the outside, which created new views from the dining room straight to the beach and the iconic pier.  

To see more details, keep reading ...


Hearkening back to vintage mail delivery, a 1954 bicycle was turned into a light fixture and placed in a cutout in the wall partition.



Old-fashioned mail slots fill room partitions on the right. Above the table, an 8-foot-long steel pendant illuminates the central area for plates to be presented and shared.



Under its painted surface, the layers of concrete flooring were like rock strata, bursting with complexities: re-poured concrete, tile patterns and miscellaneous forms, all well aged. After discovering this elaborate flooring, the firm worked with a finisher to get new colored concrete to emulate the mismatched patterns, colors and textures.



Spanish tapas bars, where the patrons order small specialized dishes and share them on large tables, inspired the communal tables with raised steel platforms running across the top. The reclaimed oak tables are accompanied by hand-crafted industrial steel and walnut wood chairs that swivel to encourage conversation.



The reclaimed barn wood and faux-painted planks as a backdrop for glass shelving.


A wider view of the bar, where the reappearance of the barn planks is complemented by a variation of the stools at dining tables.



An old concrete wall was discovered beneath layers of remodeling.



Revealing the bones of the building was achieved by removing soffits and reconfiguring beams to establish a spatial connection between different areas of the restaurant.




Rest11Large sliding steel-and-glass doors were installed along the building's facade to open the dining room to the outside, which also created new views to the beach and pier. 


An awkward Pasadena home remodeled

Shipping container house near Joshua Tree

Architect Barbara Bestor's "floating bungalow"

Pacific Palisades indoor-outdoor

Jonathan Fong, crazy for color

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Rick Poon

Pro Portfolio appears on this blog every Monday. Submit projects to [email protected].

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Fantastic place. The ambiance is amazing as well as the food. I really love the place.

Thank you for the post. The way this restaurant maintained it's history through all the renovations is a spectacular story. Using old barn pieces to coat the walls was a great idea to help maintain the historical feel and the chairs at the bar really compliment the whole restaurant design.


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