PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: Brinker International’s Headquarters
After being planted along the LBJ Freeway for over 30 years, Brinker International, Inc., one of the world’s leading casual dining companies, decided to consolidate their operations and create a new headquarters that would better reflect their business’s bright future. The company partnered with Structure Tone Southwest to build their custom restaurant support center in Cypress Waters, a 1,000-acre development located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Four stories high and a total of 214,000sf, Brinker’s new office is now three times the size of their previous space and allows for 25,000sf of future expansion. The headquarters features all the amenities of an ultramodern workplace, but as the owner of national dining chains like Chili’s® Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy®, the new building also had to include several elements unique to the restaurant business.
SOLVING THE PUZZLE
With four commercial-quality kitchens, labs, a training center and a demo dining area, Brinker’s headquarters is full of industry-specific facilities to ensure their nearly 1,700 restaurants remain a cut above the competition. However, installing the specialized materials and equipment these particular spaces required—within a typical office building— was quite the challenge.
Without an outside kitchen expert on the project team, one of Structure Tone Southwest’s main obstacles was the grease and exhaust ductwork. Typically, these ducts would exit the building on the first floor and continue up the outside framework. But given Brinker’s aesthetic goals, the team installed custom grease ducts specifically designed to travel up the inside of the building to the roof. With four large exhaust ducts now part of the building’s infrastructure, nearly all of the existing systems—from the sprinklers to the electrical networks— had to be reconfigured.
There was very little room to alter these systems to make the installation fit within the building’s existing structure. Instead, the team worked closely with Brinker’s experts and engineering team to make the existing space fit the new ductwork. “It was like putting together a puzzle that had specifically numbered pieces,” says Steve McAfee, senior superintendent at Structure Tone Southwest. “All the equipment was premanufactured to be assembled and installed in extremely precise locations.”
PLAN AND PERSIST
Because the scope of the test kitchens was so complex and detailed, the project team developed a schedule that allowed for work on both the kitchens and the office areas concurrently. As construction on the kitchens began, the team worked from the top floor down, managing the construction around the needs of the space in progress. Unfortunately, the team’s careful planning couldn’t have taken into account the period of extraordinarily heavy rain Texas experienced last year. Some of the storm sewers near the building were blocked off as required in the site’s SWIPP plan. And thanks to several weeks of down pouring— around 20,000sf of Brinker’s first floor flooded. When the project team discovered the flood, they launched a remediation plan and were able to avoid any impacts to the construction schedule.
While the kitchens and dining areas are extremely high-end, Brinker’s office space is equally as impressive. The headquarters features office spaces, meeting rooms, a corporate boardroom and amphitheater—all of which are decked out with Brinker’s top-notch IT and A/V technology. To accommodate the office’s intense tech elements, the team built a large IT lab, complete with eight AC units, as well as two MDF and IDF rooms to house the building’s data and low-voltage systems.
In addition to the four main kitchens, Brinker’s first floor boasts a 3,600sf fitness center and yoga studio, plus various outdoor patios and terraces designed for the company to host events. The upper levels focus on office space and feature an open floorplan to maximize employee interaction. The demountable, glass partitions in the offices and conference rooms add an element of flexibility to the space and will give Brinker the freedom to easily reimagine their office as the company continues to grow.
With such a high-end design, the materials had to match. The headquarters features granite countertops, fabric wall coverings and glass partitions to allow natural light to flow through the space. The project team even developed several mock-ups to test the constructability of more complex features like the ceiling system, concrete floor finishes and several specialty doors to ensure the end product would meet Brinker’s high standards.
BRINKER ON BRAND
Because their new-and-improved headquarters is so multifaceted, Brinker outdid themselves branding the space. Their branding team considered each branded element a “project” and had identified over 700 “projects” throughout the building.
During the later phases of construction, the Southwest team was in constant communication with Brinker’s branding personnel to ensure their projects were correctly sequenced into the overall construction schedule.
“Because of this teamwork, the branding program throughout the headquarters is as exceptional as the rest of the space,” says Joseph Cribbin, STSW president. “We loved being part of this team.”
- Four commercial-grade kitchens.
- Collaborative, flexible office space.
- 700 branded design elements.
- 25,000sf of expansion space.
Size: 214,000 sf
Owner: Brinker International, Inc.
Owner’s Rep: Cushman & Wakefield
Developer: BillingsleyHKS Inc.
Architect: HKS Inc.
Structural Engineer: Raymond L. Goodson Jr., Inc. RLG
Completion: February 2019