Specialty's cafe & bakery

San Francisco, United States

Rather than presenting themselves as a strictly uniform franchise, Specialty’s Café & Bakery offers a local, around-the-corner-bakery experience in every single one of their stores. This hugely successful approach helped them grow swiftly to over forty stores across three U.S. states. Masterminding the concept is Gensler’s Robert Cipollone, Specialty’s primary designer.

We’re designing a collection of stores, rather than a chain.

Thinking towards the future

“Specialty’s is very conscious about the customer experience”, says Cipollone. “They want their customers to have a cup of coffee and a cookie, then stay and linger. How? By being tech-savvy and creating a residential environment. You can go into Specialty’s, sit down in a lounge chair by the fireplace and place your order on your iPad. It’s really great how they think towards the future.”

Local experience

Cipollone is aware he has to get the local experience just right. “Before I start designing a new store, I spend a day exploring the neighbourhood. The last Chicago store I did needed some 1950’s minimal modernism. This San Francisco store is in a turn of the century building, so the interior has a much more classic look – from the furniture to the light fixtures and the artwork on the walls.”

The Laren flooring is functional but approachable: perfect for the Specialty’s brand.

Technically excellent

Cipollone chose Hakwood wood flooring for one of the first Specialty’s flagship stores, then moved on to other flooring types. Cipollone: “It remained challenging though to find a technically excellent product that reached the desired warmth. Then I re-visited the flagship store for inspiration, and the Hakwood flooring was just as stunning as on day one. Picking Hakwood again for the New Montgomery Street store simply made sense."

Products used
Flooring Laren, Dutch Scrape Collection
Grades Classical
Finish Oil
Thickness 15 mm (5/8")
Plank widths 180 mm (7")
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