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Restaurants resort to using wine bottles, jars for illumination

Longstreet Cafe and Cosa Nostra Italian Kitchen design rooms with unique light fixtures

POSTED: February 21, 2014 10:17 a.m.

If you were looking for cups and bottles in a restaurant, you probably wouldn’t look toward the ceiling.

But Gainesville restaurants are using traditional drinkware in a more creative light.

Unique lighting, whether at home or at a business, has the ability to transform the mood of a room. By using iconic items, such as a Mason jar or a wine bottle, restaurants are creating a theme to subtly influence a customer’s dining experience.

Longstreet Cafe, a cafeteria-style restaurant specializing in country food, recently updated the look of its Riverside Terrace dining room to reflect the restaurant’s “down home” theme with Mason jar-styled lighting fixtures.

Bundles of the jars, which were purchased through a retailer, hang over tables in the restaurant’s main dining room. The cafe’s look was improved for the first time since it opened in November 2002 and included new paint and window furnishings.

Bobby Peck, general manager of the restaurant, said customers frequently comment on the unique lighting’s country look and the “feeling” it lends to the atmosphere.

“I think it does what we really wanted it to, it gives it a more country feel,” Peck said. “The paint job brightens everything up and then the fixtures and curtains, to me, gives it a little more of a country, down-home feel. I think it adds to the atmosphere and ambiance of it, if you will. Especially for people (who) have never been here, for new customers, I think it makes them understand what kind of restaurant we are.”

The lighting fixtures achieve a similar result at Cosa Nostra Italian Kitchen, which opened in November at 118 Main St. in downtown Gainesville.

Each table in the restaurant is lit by an overhead wine bottle fixture. The fixtures were created by hand by cutting away the bottom of the wine bottle and wiring a single light bulb through the neck. The restaurant’s owners hired a craftswoman online to make the pieces.

“We like them, they were us,” said James Knight, co-owner of Cosa Nostra. “They’re old and yet contemporary. It’s a bit of elegance and it’s recycled and repurposed. They’re not the same old same old. Everybody doesn’t have them. They’re unique, and they’re Italian because they’re wine bottles.”

Knight said the look of bottle-light fixtures, decor and large mural complete the “New York-Italian restaurant” atmosphere the historic building already projected.

Knight said customers are often curious about the glass fixtures and want to know where they can find their own.

While both restaurants purchased the lighting fixtures, a number of do-it-yourself options are available in various styles online. Sites such as Pinterest.com, an image sharing website, offer a number of do-it-yourself crafts that can achieve the same ambiance in your home. Should you decide to make your own lighting or purchase from a store, remember to use caution and follow directions closely when working with electricity.


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