Forktales 29 / Karl Travis / Senior Interior Designer & Partner at Hager Design Intl

Interior design and architecture have constant challenges with restaurants. From nuanced local codes to behavioral shifts in consumers, they must be on their feet at all times. My friend Karl Travis and I chat about these challenges along with the design trends hitting the industry as a result of pandemic-fueled behavior shifts in this episode of Forktales!

  • Partner and Senior Designer at Hager International
  • Karl has over 20 years design experience and is a graduate of Algonquin College in Ottawa and has a Diploma of Interior Design. He is also a 2010 inductee of his alma mater Hall of Fame for the School of Media and Design. Karl’s background is in hospitality which included partnership in a restaurant located in Whistler, BC, Canada. Karl is NCIDQ qualified, is registered with the Interior Designer Institute of BC, the Interior Designers of Nova Scotia and the Interior Designers of Canada.


  • “There are so many shifts happening as a result of the behavioral shifts with consumers – designers are reacting, absorbing, and developing new solutions.” – Joseph
  • “Things like drive thru’s were shunned for the most part.” – Joseph
  • “What also shunned it was city council, because of the environmental factor.” – Karl
  • “There’s potential for overcorrection, but it depends on the board rooms of the large companies, they have some very smart people and they pay them to do the research.” – Karl
  • “It’s giving people the option to not interact with other people, so it’s all about choice.” – Karl
  • “McDonald’s was always way ahead of the game.” – Karl
  • “It’s all automated. You can see the appeal from investors – its very low cost of entry, you dont need a lot of labor, and the food is delicious.” – Joseph
  • “It has a lot to do with location as well, and rent/leasing/availability. And of course the labor shortage – this will factor into how companies will determine what they want to do.” – Karl
  • “I used to go to Starbucks a lot and I don’t go anymore …. I’m gonna get my coffee and go on with my life.” – Karl
  • “What if people want to stay and watch? Maybe it’s a spectacle … watch the hustle and bustle of what’s happening behind the glass wall with these robots. I love watching people as well.” – Karl
  • “It was always fun to go into the village, sit on the patio, and patio rules. You’re invisible, nobody can hear you or see you. You watch people go by … it’s definitely something that I enjoy. So having a takeout place where you have the option to sit and watch and have the conversation – it’s more options for what you want to bring to that particular space.” – Karl
  • “We design for the owner. We’ll take your vision and bring it to fruition and bring it into a living space.” – Karl
  • “There’s a lot of emulation that happens on lower scale brands – they look up and say oh they’re doing it, we need to do the same thing but cheaper … and I think that’s a bit dangerous.” – Joseph
  • “One thing that has impressed me is how the hospitality industry came together – sharing the knowledge of oh we did this and it didn’t work.” – Karl
  • “Are you ever gonna have 40 bums in 40 seats at one time? People aren’t interested.” – Karl
  • “You want to increase your back of house … you need to keep the kitchen going so there’s more storage and you’re not ordering as much.” – Karl
  • “In my day the back of house was cramped, it wasn’t thought of. The cooks will deal with it. But it’s changing … you’re focusing in on the cooks and it’s been a long time coming. It’s them who make the restaurant tick.” – Karl
  • “There’s an octopusification of the restaurant world … there’s many arms that have to happen.” – Joseph
  • “What’s priority? The guy or girl in line, or the person who ordered ahead, or the person who just booped on a kiosk out front?” – Joseph
  • “My head is spinning and I’m glad I’m an interior designer, not a QSR owner! That’s a big piece of chicken sandwich to bite off.” – Karl
  • “Tech is at the forefront right now.” – Karl

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