Shipped from Chına

Sidebar:   Designer Awards 

Kinney Chan, the Hong Kong designer of Waterfront Urban Diner, Mizu and Craft, has won a number of awards for his company’s projects including: 

The phrase “Made in China” has been given a whole new twist in three of Cayman’s newest restaurants.

Waterfront Urban Diner, Mizu, and Craft Food & Beverage Co. were designed and manufactured in Asia, then flat-packed and shipped to Grand Cayman.

The cutting-edge interiors are the hallmark of award-winning Hong Kong designer Kinney Chan, recognized as being at the forefront of his profession for up-to-the-minute style and who was recently on the cover of Interior Design China magazine which featured top designers of 2013-2014.

And not only were the three restaurants put together in the Far East, but they were also designed without Mr. Chan having stepped foot in the buildings they are located in.

“He worked from the blueprints of the space and ‘as built’ drawings and measurements done locally by the contractor,” explains Leif Ristimaki, who co-owns the restaurants with fellow Canadian, Chad Gilbert.

The pair have been friends for more than 20 years and arrived together in Cayman in 1998 to work in the food and beverage industry.

They have since gone on to open and operate five restaurants, with Duke’s Seafood & Rib Shack and Fidel Murphy’s also in their portfolio.

Waterfront Urban Diner and Mizu are both located in Camana Bay while Craft is at the site of the former Triple Crown pub at Marquee Place.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to make our mark on the landscape, providing approachable design environments with value-driven menu options, something we thought was missing,” says Leif. “Good design doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to be good.”

The concepts for Waterfront Urban Diner, Mizu and Craft came from Leif and Chad’s personal experiences in the restaurant business.

“The ideas were refined through countless brainstorming sessions with our friends/family and chef/management team,” says Leif.

Following Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Chad had the opportunity to work in Hong Kong for an expanding restaurant group and he seized the opportunity to move to the Far East.

It was there that he met Mr. Chan and his manufacturing partner Frankie Yu, who helped the company grow from eight to 50 restaurants in the three years that Chad was there.

When Chad returned to Cayman and he and Leif were ready to embark upon their restaurant venture in Camana Bay, they reached out to Mr. Chan who took on the project.

Waterfront Urban Diner is a family diner with a modern twist on classic American diner dishes and fresh home cooking.

Meanwhile, Mizu is a “Pan Asian” restaurant that endeavors to remain regionally authentic to all of its dishes.

Mr. Chan and his team were able to deliver on all that Chad and Leif wanted, despite being based on the other side of the world.

“The entire restaurant was pre-built in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in mainland China,” says Leif, explaining the process.

“They use the interior measurements and layout the floor plan, It was temporarily assembled for finish, paint and design approval then disassembled and shipped to the site for installation.

“All the furniture and fixtures (except lights that don’t meet code) were customized and built to order. Everything in the restaurants came from Asia: marble, tiles, millworks, even more than 100 mirrors and glasses (none of it broken).”

It was all packed and shipped to Cayman, taking 33 days from door to door, before local tradesmen unpacked and reassembled everything.

“The restaurants came with very detailed drawings for assembly and gave specific instructions,” says Leif. “We worked with local contractor Riaan De Jager and it wouldn’t have happened without his professional insight. Mr. De Jager was able to coordinate all local activities required and make the installation run very smooth.”

Leif and Chad were so impressed with the design and craftsmanship that they later contracted Mr. Chan and his team to undertake the remodel of the former Triple Crown to the American-style gastro pub Craft Food & Beverage Co.

“The installation millwork needed very little modification and several times left local contractors asking ‘how did they (the Chinese) do it?’,” says Leif. “We were within millimeters on several pieces of installation.”

Amongst the notable design attractions are the unique flooring and furniture in the Waterfront Urban Diner which is made of reclaimed wood from a Chinese junk ship, while Asian mosaic marble has been used to replicate the scales of a dragon in Mizu.

“The feedback has been great,” says Leif. “Customers often say the designs remind them of being in metropolitan centers around the world – London, New York, Vancouver.”


Stephen Clarke