Lennox Town Center's "mug" has clearly run full with the addition of Cup O Joe, a high-design, neighborhood-style coffee shop that opened last May. Husband-and-wife owners Todd and Michelle Appelbaum paired with Columbus, Ohio-based Chute Gerdeman to create a branded retail environment that, they say, goes to great lengths to appeal to the masses.

"I believe people go to places that are reflections of themselves," explains Todd Appelbaum. "If that place reflects an image that people either already [have or want to have], then they're going to automatically be drawn to it. Our brand, store and image positioning is therefore extremely important."

The store's image conveys a strong brand message through its materials. Customers can relax in soft, plush living room seating in front of the store's copper-topped fireplace, while the cafe's medium-toned wood tables are inset with copper detailing. The industrial-feel features, such as copper tubing, screen mesh, pegboard, newspaper wallpaper and coffee bean panels are offset by such warm tones as lime green, purple, beige and royal blue.

Dennis Gerdeman, principal with Chute Gerdeman, notes that the Cup O Joe brand speaks directly to those coffeehouse customers, who are, in increasing numbers, looking for recognizable, lounge-like alternatives to bars and nightclubs. "What's happening with the coffeehouses is that they're replacing bars as the gathering place of choice," he says, adding that Cup O Joe brings a unique neighborhood feel to Lennox Town Center in Columbus, because of its 60-seat, outdoor cafe.

Once customers make their way inside, Cup O Joe provides an upscale environment for specialty coffeehouse fare, which includes cappuccino drinks, bagels, sandwiches, gourmet desserts and coffee by the pound. The store also features a brand merchandising retail area, including shirts, hats, books and a wide selection of coffee mugs.

Maribeth Gatchalian, the project's senior designer, and Greg DeLong, project manager, both of Chute Gerdeman, drew from a varied materials palette to convey the space's unique qualities. For example, says Gatchalian, Cup O Joe's flooring design - with both hard and soft materials - helped separate the different seating areas.

"The flooring helps define these spaces within the store," she says. "For the main entry, we used glazed, textured tile, while carpeting was used for the soft seating and circular banquette areas, to help create an intimate feel. Instead of using walls [to delineate space], we used flooring to define the different areas."

The Cup O Joe space is set off by other design touches as well. Outside, customers are treated to a highly visible, 12-ft. x 6-ft.-tall coffee mug on the cafe's rooftop. Inside, decorative lighting fixtures were created from used coffee cans and copper tubing. Another interesting curio is its cubist mural collage, which, says DeLong, represents an unexpected element that will give each subsequent Cup O Joe location a different design twist.

What is likely to help strengthen Cup O Joe's brand image, says Gatchalian, are Appelbaum's plans to be highly selective about future site selection.

"What's great is that selectiveness creates the mystique and brand prestige, as opposed to saturating the market [with excessive expansion]," she says. "The strategic locations that he has chosen have become destinations in their neighborhoods, and they've pulled people in. Being selective helps to create a high-quality image statement."