In early June of 2020, the Figure Plant team gathered for the first time over Zoom after a COVID-19 hiatus. They shared anecdotes about their time off but quickly switched into a lively conversation about what was next for Figure Plant. They were known for making the impossible possible. They had built giant unicorns and lifesize mini-golf courses and trucks that converted into ski slopes. They could build anything, but with most of our projects ending up in large-scale events, they had to rethink their direction and start (almost) from scratch.
The team threw out ideas left and right. There were no dumb ideas; a six-foot Lazy Susan! Zoom backdrops! Personal doorknobs! But as the conversation died down, the team thought about who they were truly worried for; the struggling restaurant industry. Figure Plant is proud to be based in Portland, Oregon, a food mecca of sorts. There are killer food truck pods, insane brunch spots, and some of the best coffee shops in the world.
With restaurant owners terrified about reopening or whether they would even reopen at all, the team believed they could help. After all, they made the impossible possible.
We started with the doorway. Restaurateurs around the country were trapped in their doorway and expected to convert their business to to-go only. Around Portland, the team observed the various doorway apparatuses. There were pieces of plywood with a window cut out leaning precariously against door frames, tiny café tables made to hold POS systems, and some who couldn’t reopen at all. Then, the TODD (Take-out Door Divider) was born. TODD is a movable service counter meant to:
- support POS systems
- space for handing to-go orders
- acrylic screens to protect customers and employees
Then came CASS (Clear Acrylic Safety Screen) and ED (Entertaining Dividers) which are easily-assembled acrylic screens to protect customers and employees in classic or whimsical shapes.
Figure Plant didn’t think a screen was enough. A new problem arose concerning screens; sound. With all the PPE, suddenly ordering a “triple shot latte with two pumps of caramel” sounded like muffled gibberish. Especially with coffee grinders in the background and music playing throughout the store.
Figure Plant came up with an ingenious solution: a Covid-safe sound-hole. Sound waves needed to be able to travel farther without being obstructed. The STAN (Sound Transmission Assistant Node) is an addition made to a CASS that uniquely optimizes sound travel.
Then we have BECA. BECA is Figure Plant’s pride and joy. She epitomizes great innovation in tumultuous times. BECA (Beverage Extension Conveyance Apparatus) is a serving tray built especially for drive-thrus to limit physical contact when serving drinks to car-bound customers. BECA was built with Dutch Bros, an Oregon-based chain, in mind but soon grew to be optimal for all drive-thru businesses. With drive-thrus as the wave of the restaurant industry’s future, BECA is there to make it safe and fun.
The team had a blast building a new family of products: BECA, CASS, STAN, ED, and TODD. But Figure Plant never wanted to let go of its roots in the event industry. We cannot wait to be helping brands again through innovative designs and high-quality fabrication.
Ultimately, like many companies in 2020, Figure Plant had to reevaluate its operations in order to survive. We are grateful for everyone who has welcomed us into the world of safe dining. And as everyone and everything starts to recover, we will be ready to return to working with marketing and creative industries. But the restaurant industry will not be forgotten. We can’t wait to work in both industries because as they say, the more the merrier.