Rintaro, a Michelin-recommended izakaya in San Francisco, needed a website that told their story and captured the same feeling that their dining experience does so well.

Inspired by owner Sylvan Brackett’s collection of Showa-era matchbooks, posters and magazines, I developed a visual strategy and built an original web experience from the ground up.

Style Guide, Website

Austin Long, Design
Aya Brackett, Photography

4 Months

I created numerous illustrations for the site, including this spiny lobster ‘hanko’ stamp.
Textured type, rough edges, and overlapping layouts give the site a distinctly physical appearance.
We pored through hundreds of Showa-era graphics to inform the stylistic direction.

Rintaro uses seasonal California ingredients to prepare traditional Japanese meals. The food isn’t fusion: Its the food you would expect to find if Tokyo just so happened to be a city in Northern California. Their menu offerings, interior design and print collateral all reinforce this idea. We wanted the website to be a clear and robust extension of that idea. We prefaced the style guide with narrative:

It’s a brisk Friday night. You just left a dive bar and you can’t remember if your last drink was a shot of Fernet in the Mission, or a Highball in Shinjuku. You’re walking with some old friends along the Yamanote line, or is it the J-Church? You duck into the courtyard of a dimly lit restaurant and find yourself in a warm, intimate space. The sturdy wooden construction turns the sound from the lively crowd into a warm, inviting buzz. You can smell something roasting over a charcoal grill as a danceable song plays in the background. It could be 1958 or 2018.

The site is intentionally imperfect. Textured and overlapping typography and graphics are intended to create a wabi-sabi sense physicality.

Beneath the site’s rough, handmade feel the structure is intended to make navigation easy and intuitive. We prioritized the two most common user intentions: (1) making a reservation and (2) finding the restaurant’s location & hours. The site is built with Grav CMS and includes an admin dashboard that allows Rintaro’s team to update their menu and make content changes on the fly.

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