The impressive new design for cafe cairo provides an easy transition from themed restaurant and bar to happening front street nightclub

By CTX Interiors

Judges were so impressed with the authentic Egyptian design of recently renovated Café Cairo that one quipped, “You almost expect to see belly dancers.”


Designer Jacob Hocking of CTX Interiors explains that the main design goal was to create a themed restaurant space that could easily be changed into a nightclub after serving hours. In order to accomplish this, they completely gutted and reorganized the space, giving special attention to the way in which the servers interacted with the bar and kitchen staff. This enabled the bar and kitchen to function with equal efficiency during crossover periods.

“For the interior fit outs, the client and I visited New York City and went to a series of similar bars and restaurants, noting what we liked about each space,” says Hocking. “When we returned, we discussed how to integrate those ideas into the space we had and then began to source suppliers and develop the ideas we had.”

“It’s a very impressive interior project,” noted a judge, who especially liked the continuity of atmosphere extending even to the bathrooms. “It’s a very good, comprehensive solution—a fabulous dining room. We loved it!”

They found the attention to detail impressive and commended the combination of suitable finishes, fabrics, materials, furnishings and artwork. The clever combination of genuine old Middle Eastern pieces and new fabrications was considered “very smart,” and the consistency of the romantic atmosphere throughout gained their approval. They observed that the new floor plan significantly improved the layout, which now offers intimate dining areas that open into a generous space for a nightclub ambiance.

Hocking says that the tent room mimics the communal dining concept popular with Middle Eastern cultures, and the fabrics and furniture in this room were selected to be low, comfortable and versatile so that several small groups or one large group could be equally at ease.

The main dining space was designed with curtains that allow for group dining or privacy as the facility turns from restaurant to bar.

The new floor was laid on battens to replicate the creaks and movement of an old wooden floor, the designer said, and bold wallpaper colours and patterns were chosen to cover the walls. Sound buffers were used to create variation in the ceiling height and absorb echoes when the space is only partially occupied.

The air-conditioning ducts and steel beams were wrapped in fireproof fabrics of Middle Eastern design, and copper lanterns and Egyptian carvings were placed in prominent positions throughout, adding to the ambiance.

Brick was added to the front-porch wall in lieu of paint to hide wear and tear; in addition, backlit ceiling canopies, ceiling fans, ornately carved chairs and recycled wood decking were installed to enhance what is the most popular spot during the evening.

The kitchen was completely gutted and reconfigured to the Egyptian chef’s requirements in order to accommodate the variety of food served, and the plumbing, electrical and air-conditioning systems were replaced.

The walk-in bar, backlit, can double as a sushi bar during busy lunch hours, and a DJ booth has been cleverly tucked into a small space.

“Business has increased significantly since reopening,” notes Hocking, “and staff and customers have had high praise for the new space.”

General Contractor SJ Carpentry; Mechanical Contractor C&C solutions; HVAC Climate Services; Furniture Victoria Mendal;  Audio Visual BMI Ltd.; Signage Asyd Design; Wall Coverings/Painting Abbott Decorating; Painting JW Painting; Drywall TCC Drywall; Bars GTI; Bar Equipment Barritts.