A Dramatic Transformation on a Budget

To take advantage of the right mix of food, drink, and atmosphere, you have to create a fresh design concept on a limited budget

The right mix of food, drink, and atmosphere is sure to bring a lot of business in the door – but to take advantage of a great opportunity, you have to create a fresh design concept on a limited budget.


The Lucky Monk in South Barrington, IL, is a re-concept of the former Brass restaurant. The remake included a new name, a new menu, revised kitchen equipment to accommodate the menu, and a new look and feel. The Lucky Monk is a pizza, burger, and beer concept with an extensive list of quality microbrews, including many brewed in-house. 


The owner, Phil Thiem of Royal Management, challenged Aria Group to achieve the most dramatic transformation possible on a limited budget. The successful interior design involved minimal demolition and maximum use of existing materials while still changing the ambience of the space so as to be nearly unrecognizable from its former self. With the removal of interior partitions, Aria Group opened up the space and introduced new floating ceiling elements, floor materials, and millwork low walls to completely redefine the layout of the space.


The bar was relocated to create a feature island bar area, which also included opening an adjacent wall to feature the restaurant’s existing brew tanks through new glazed openings. New wall finishes were employed in many areas, whereas some spaces maintained existing brick and millwork, exemplifying how a skillful mixing of old with new can create an entirely different identity.


A dramatic new lighting design scheme puts the finishing touch on The Lucky Monk’s new atmosphere. Deep awnings over existing windows along with building lighting completely alter the structure’s exterior image at a minimal cost.