When Ed Rudisell and Carlos Salazar first opened Rook in 2013, everyone at CODO, and the larger Indianapolis community, quickly became enamored. While we were partial to their robust Bánh mì list, they never intended to just be a sandwich shop. Instead, they had planned on more of a contemporary Asian restaurant showcasing street food-inspired influences from Korea, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia with a Filipino touch to give Carlos the space to explore his native cuisine however he envisioned.
While their old space was one of the cooler spots in Indy, it wasn’t conducive to this type of broader experience. So in late 2015, they packed up the entire concept and moved down the street to a beautifully designed space, complete with an open kitchen, communal tables, and gorgeous Japanese-inspired furniture throughout. With this new move wrapped up, they wanted to update their website to properly funnel both local and out-of-town traffic to their new location.
So Ed approached us for relatively simple website—something that could be easily updated to showcase Rook’s ever-evolving menu, wine list, cocktails, and the people behind the concept—standard restaurant stuff. But after one meeting with Ed, it became clear that we could push this beyond a typical restaurant site in a few fun ways. The most obvious being the opportunity to explore Asian design, arguably one of the most beautiful visual vocabularies on the planet.
This deconstructed look translated surprisingly well across responsive breakpoints (meaning it retains the same experience from desktop to tablet to mobile screen sizes).
Ed and Carlos are into old-school hip-hop in a big way. In order to play this genre in a family-friendly restaurant, they have to spend hours tracking down appropriately edited songs so as to not offend the youth (and their moms). This is a fun experiential nod that makes the entire restaurant more approachable, and as a way to cross promote something that isn’t typically seen on websites, we were able to do a little backend API trickery and pull the currently playing track from their Spotify playlist into their footer.
Other cool features were an easy to use reservation system, a subtle chopstick animation in the mobile nav, and a special alert banner that goes up whenever they have a special event, different hours, or a special to promote.
Beyond all of this fun stuff, we’re happy to see Rook open again. For a fledgling city with a killer restaurant scene, they’re just one more in a long list of places for Indy folks (and out-of-owners) to visit regularly.