Fast-casual shouldn't mean carrying your own plate.

Space Odyssey 

Fast-casual shouldn't mean carrying your own plate.

If you read my bitching about the bottleneck "ordering station" — or whatever the hell they call it — at the otherwise pretty fabulous The Mixx , I know what you may be thinking. I've never designed a restaurant's interior, so what the hell do I know?

The fact is, I don't know what I would have done differently in orchestrating the space occupied by The Mixx. The current interior isn't big enough to cobble together a customer "holding pen" so that patrons wouldn't have to stand in line or huddle together as they do in a narrow hallway. Maybe this summer, owner Jo Marie Scaglia can throw up a tent over the back door and hire a balloon artist to entertain the crowd. Or a mime.

My vote would be to go ahead and dump the "fast casual" concept completely and hire real waiters and waitresses to take orders. You know, like in a real restaurant, even if that kind of labor-intensive dining experience is, like, so 20th century. But table service doesn't solve the problem of patrons waiting at popular restaurants.

From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, I think the sunny, airy dining room at The Mixx is sensational. If only all new restaurants could be as attractive and comfortable. And that led me to wonder what local architect Keith Mueller had up his kimono for the interior of the upcoming Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, DoMo, opening later this spring in Brookside. DoMo is being constructed in the storefront space at 6322 Brookside Plaza, once occupied by Einstein Bros. Bagels.

Einstein Bros., like its locally owned predecessor Bagel & Bagel, had a dark, stark interior. And with its order-at-the-counter concept, I never found the place particularly relaxing or inviting. But Mueller has some expertise in taking badly lighted venues and illuminating them: he helped with the expansion of Westport's Matsu Japanese Restaurant (427 Westport Road) several years ago, when the owners decided to annex the adjoining cinema auditorium that was once the original Tivoli Theatre.

Mueller is working with Matsu's Mila Geisler on DoMo, her newest project. "She has very good taste," Mueller says. "It's going to be very attractive. Lots of interesting lighting." DoMo is only the second restaurant project for Mueller (the Matsu expansion was the first), but he'd like to do more. "They're very challenging," he says.

When DoMo opens, supposedly next month, the dining room will have a stylized sushi bar and plenty of tables and chairs. And, best of all ... table service!

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