Route 66: Bringing an Epic American Highway to a New Zealand Diner


Route 66: Bringing an Epic American Highway to a New Zealand Diner

Route 66 isn’t just our Mother Road, it’s an icon – one that’s recognized inside and outside the United States. In fact, it may surprise you just how many people in other countries are fascinated by our historic highway.

One diner owner in New Zealand has loved the idea of Route 66 for years. He traveled to the U.S. to drive the entire length and really get a feel for its edgy, nostalgic charm. He loved America’s most famous road so much that he decided to make it the centerpiece and big draw of his restaurant. 

While this customer was in St. Louis, he also toured our plant to get an idea of what DH Schmidt could do. His overall goal was to incorporate iconic looks from Route 66 into his project and build some showstopping casework for the diner. We delivered! 

The must-have features for this project included:

  • A uniquely tapered counter
  • Two-direction wall sconces
  • LED lighting incorporated throughout the space

We bounced ideas off our designer and figured out the dimensions of each piece before coming up with casework that was not only seamless but perfectly themed.  

The Challenges

Our challenges involved complicated designs, lighting considerations, and shipping concerns.

We figured out which ideas could be manufactured, what materials and colors would be best for the project, and how to ship it all overseas. From initial interviews to final shipping, we spent over 6 months perfecting the design so we’d be sure to delight this client – and his customers! 

  1. Innovative designs: One of our biggest challenges was the unique counter this client wanted for his diner. Our designer envisioned a tapered hourglass shape, and to make it required a 3-dimensional fold. If you think of the way an ice cream cone looks, you get the general idea. To accomplish this, we spent hours at our computer and the drafting table before we even began working our materials into the perfect shape. 
  2. Creative lighting solutions: Next, we tackled the lights. This client wanted wall sconces and accent lighting that would grab attention. We decided on a unique sconce design and lighting for the countertop that would enhance its design. We knew that lighting, when done well, would really bring this project to life.
  3. The long-distance factor: The final challenge was preparing all the pieces for shipment. While we’re a family-owned St. Louis company, we ship our custom-designed casework all over the world, from Norway and Russia to New Zealand. But given the complexity of our projects, it’s not always easy!

DH Schmidt’s Solutions

To overcome these obstacles and create a product that would have constructive benefits for its users, the team at DH Schmidt used engineering skills, trial and error, and plain old common sense:

The architect in New Zealand sent us detailed measurements of the space so we’d have a good idea of the footprint of the room. With numbers and drawings in hand, we went to work. 

  • From computer screen to a New Zealand diner: We plotted our design out on the computer and then “unwrapped it” to understand the dimensions of each piece we needed to manufacture. When we manufacture casework, we always try to hide the joints and make our design as seamless as possible. With attention to every last detail, it all fits together when installed. 
  • Custom-designed casework and sconces: We decided that wall lighting that shone in only one direction just wouldn’t cut it. So, we created wall sconces angled to shine up and down. Then, we created accent lighting for our unique counter. With LED bulbs, we ensured that our lights would showcase our unique casework for years to come.
  • Each piece carefully packaged, shipped, and installed: As we prepared our designs to ship, we broke down every piece into small components that could be carefully reassembled on site. This would make shipping less expensive and installation a matter of following our detailed instructions!


The Final Product: A Route 66 Experience in a Place Like No Other

When it comes to uniquely shaped designs and interesting casework challenges, DH Schmidt really shines. We have the talent and we love to translate imaginative ideas into real-life products. 

Our favorite Kiwi loved the innovation we brought to his Route 66 project. He continues to send us pictures, brag about how cool his diner looks, and promise to come back to the States any day now to drive the length of our Mother Road all over again. Getting results like this is what we at DH Schmidt live for. 

What can we design for your business? 

Check out this music video which was filmed at the diner!

Let us know how we can bring your vision to life.

Tell us about your project and learn how DHSchimdt can help.

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