Celebrity chef David LeFevre, formerly of Downtown LA’s The Water Grill is opening a new eatery in Manhattan Beach. But he wanted it to look and feel different, so of course he called fellow Manhattan Beach resident Stephen Francis Jones of SFJones Architects.
Now in its fifteenth year, SFJones Architects has been a major player in restaurant innovation in Southern California and across the country
Stephen Francis Jones of SFJones Architects designs distinctive restaurants. From his latest upscale rustic eatery Manhattan Beach Post, to the high-end classic style of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills, to the retro-chic Lucky Strike Lanes, he has created extraordinary environments dedicated to food and fun. He brings a wealth of experience and vision to a diverse range of projects: high-end restaurants and lounges, casual eateries, hotels, and spas — around the U.S. and around the world.
How it all began…
After studying architecture at the University of Florida, Jones got his Master’s degree at UCLA. He began his career in Boston, working with Jung/Brannen Associates designing high-rises. The experience was valuable, as it taught him that his interests and strengths were in more personal venues. “The scale of those projects was so large,” Jones recalls, “you lost the sense of detail and a certain amount of control.
After his first year at UCLA, he went to Tuscany: “I perfected my sketching abilities, studied Italian hilltown architecture, and fine-tuned my knowledge of architecture,” he says.
The Grown-Up Restaurant
Upon returning to Los Angeles to work on the design of a co-generation power plant in Sacramento, Jones was given the opportunity to reinvigorate his passion for restaurant design when he was hired as the in-house architect at the Wolfgang Puck Food Company.
In 1996, he left the Wolfgang Puck Food Company to start his own firm, SFJones Architects. Eager to continue his association with Jones, the famed chef and Barbara Lazaroff hired him to recreate Wolfgang Puck’s most celebrated restaurant in its new Beverly Hills location. The result was a much more elegant and refined incarnation of the celebrity pizza restaurant: Spago all grown up.
The new incarnation of Spago propelled Jones to new heights, attracting upscale clientele and commissions for his firm. Jones went on to design Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood, a combination restaurant, bar, and bowling alley that quickly became a popular hipster hangout.
The fresh concept of a retro bowling alley/lounge became fiercely popular nationwide: SFJones Architects was hired to design Big Al’s, a bowling alley and sports bar in Vancouver, Washington, and Ashton Kutcher’s Dolce Group hired Jones to design Ten Pin Alley in Atlanta. “I’ve created an unexpected niche in stylish bowling alley architecture!” laughs Jones.
Rental shoes are not an essential feature on all of his projects: “My favorite projects are the ones when the client comes to us with a well-defined idea of their concept,” Jones explains. “We interpret and enhance that idea, creating dynamic and imaginative results that resonate with our clients, fully realizing their innovative ambitions.”
Now, SFJones Architects, a six-person team, works on 12 to 15 projects a year. Mostly recently several restaurant projects. “Opening a new restaurant is a huge thrill, like opening a movie,” says Jones. “It’s great to be able to invite all your friends to come and enjoy your work.”
“My ambitions go beyond architecture,” he explains. “I like to live my life with the same passion that I bring to design. I want to do work that feeds the spirit, not the ego.”
Visit Stephen Francis Jones’ website is www.sfjones.com