St. Alma, Freshwater’s newest Mexican restaurant, opened in January 2022. Designed by Five Foot One, interiors reflect co-owners Jack Leary and Tim Christensen’s journey to date.
Alma’s sister store on Avalon Beach, St. Alma draws attention with its large burgundy doors at the entrance and its six-foot refrigerator that holds a huge array of fresh seafood. It was important that Five Foot One’s design conveyed the perfect blend of minimal Mexican modernism inside the 100-capsule venue while complementing their authentic cuisine and prime location.
“It’s unique to St. Alma – I would sum it up as fresh and chic yet laid back and soulful with an edgy twist. You could say we like to juxtapose a fun and engaging style of service with a sophisticated dining experience and layout,” says owner Jack Leary.
Five Foot One director Kat Thompson says the whole process was organic, evolving from the initial demolition which revealed interesting and solid architecture of the original bank site.
“A number of the original features have then been retained – exposed burgundy roof trusses as well as rough sawn timber beams, even the original bank vault has been incorporated and revamped into the new structure” , she says.
“We discovered a stunning ceiling with enormous height that runs through the center of the restaurant – we had to make the most of it! Now a woven fabric ceiling hangs in this void moving naturally with the ocean breeze.
Thompson says the cool-toned palette was inspired by the restaurant’s immediate location.
“We channeled a fresh and light base palette in response to the coastal setting and inserted vibrant color blocking in key focal areas. For example, a striking burgundy was used to highlight the main entrance and the bar to attract customers. We offset the boldness of burgundy with soft earthy tones of terracotta, accents of green and mustard elsewhere in the restaurant,” she says.
Curved bar area display shelves highlight Five Foot One’s attention to detail. It features a four meter long geometric textured sculptural piece that sits at the center of the restaurant. Timbers and beach woven materials are among the furniture fittings.
The combination of different seating options was crucial for the operation of the restaurant. “We wanted diners to have a more intimate dining experience with stools at the bar and in the kitchen,” says Leary.