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Style Awards Interview: A New Wave of Restaurant at Ziferblat

With Gareth Harold, Head of Operations

“Everything is free inside, except for the time you spend”.

ziferblat cafe restaurant

Ziferblat is a new take on the age-old café-cum-restaurant; it’s a venue that charges visitors by the minute as opposed to the amount of food or drink they consume.

The first of its kind in the UK, Ziferblat has already been a huge hit since its inception; with cafes in Liverpool, Manchester and London and plans to open new branches in the future. So what is it that draws people in?

We caught up with Gareth Harold, Head of Operations for Ziferblat UK and Ireland to find out more.

Talk us through the history of Ziferblat and the story of how it all began.

Ziferblat began in Moscow in 2011 as the brainchild of Ivan Meetin. He had a passion for poetry and created something called pocket poetry which was a meet up group for likeminded poetry fans. He placed little cards with poems on one side and an email address on the other around the city, so those who wished to meet up could make contact. They met in cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, bars etc but the formula was always the same; you were welcome as long as you had something to eat of drink. He decided to rent some space, people would meet there and the first Ziferblat was born.

Explain the design concept of Ziferblat and what the interior design set out to achieve?

Ziferblat is a chameleon of its surroundings with subtle nods to its origin. Each branch has a homely feel with comfortable seating and textiles blended with functional work spaces for meetings and co-working. The design’s objective is to make guests feel instantly at ease and allow them to do what it is they came to do, whether that be work or pleasure.

ziferblat cafe

What challenges did you face when coming up with ideas for interior design within Ziferblat? How were these overcome?

We start each branch from the outside in, what is around the branch? Who will our guests be? We then make decisions about how our guests will use the space. This process influences the ultimate design. In terms of challenges, these often occur during the fit out process; some of them as mundane as where pipework will be located, which we often have to rethink to we can’t have a living wall due to the upkeep.

How do you think your particular style and design improves overall customer experience?

Our design is welcoming and familiar, in each of our branches you will find things which are familiar to you such as the items in the kitchen, these are mostly domestic, to the our large selection of board games to keep guests entertained. Our spaces are open and easy to navigate with lots of different environments for our guests to enjoy, so everyone can find their favourite spot in their favourite Ziferblat.

How important do you think interior design is for restaurant cafes in encouraging customers to visit?

Design is supremely important. A space should work. Many venues can be over designed and ultimately have more form than function; whilst form is important, restaurants and cafes are functional spaces. They should be designed to enhance the activity and experience, not detract from it.

ziferblat restaurant

What do you see as the key trends for restaurant cafes over the next 12 months?

I see the rise of spaces like ours that are an alternative to cafes and restaurants. I believe we will see the continued growth and boom of the restaurant industry certainly for the remainder of this year but this has also started to see a contraction. People have lots of choice its important for us to be their choice.

What’s in the for Ziferblat over the next year?

We are excited to be continuing to grow our aim is to have 5 branches by the end of 2016 and double that number in 2017 with the planned move to cities such as Sheffield and Leeds.

To find out more about the movers and shakers in the hospitality industry, stay tuned for the 2017 Style Guide… coming soon.


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