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Designer, illustrator and educator Ryan Feerer has recently embarked on a new challenge, adding the exciting accolade of restaurant owner to his repertoire. Feerer and good friend Jimbo Jackson opened their establishment Abi-Haus at the end of 2012 in Abilene, Texas. With the central theme being “cool vibes, good service and pleasant people”, Feerer has also been able to showcase his spectacular design skills by taking on the restaurant’s branding. Abi-Haus’s imagery is striking and can be seen to reflect the pair’s passion for Abilene itself with Art of the Menu describing their menus as “stocked with Prohibition charm and a hint of Texas outlaw”.

After living and working in NYC for many years Feerer returned to Abilene, where he is now teaching at the Christian University from which he originally graduated. Feerer’s work spans many genres with a portfolio that consists of items from bespoke wedding invitations, to album covers and a tour poster.

We talked to Ryan Feerer to find out more…

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana


Tell us about yourself and your work?

My approach to design is to attempt to create timeless work and have a great time doing it. This isn’t an easy task. A lot of sketching, exploration, successes and mistakes. Taking chances that end up wonderful and some that fail. It always comes together at the end and it’s always an adventure. That’s what I love about what I do. There is always a unique puzzle to solve and it keeps me on my toes. I’m extremely thankful to have had the opportunities I’ve had and look forward to what comes my way in the future.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Wade Griffith

How did the Abi-Haus project come about?

I’m very passionate about food and have always wanted to open my restaurant. I never thought I’d actually have the opportunity to do so. About two and a half years ago on Halloween night a young family came by our house to trick-or-treat. They were the same age as my wife and me and lived only a block away. We immediately became friends. Jimbo Jackson was a pilot in the air force and his wife, Jessica, was about to open up a women’s boutique. I told them that I’d love to do the design work for the store, so I did. Betty & June was the beginning of a certain lifestyle in Abilene. It was different and stood out in a beautiful way.

Because of the success of Betty & June, Jimbo and I started fantasizing about opening up a restaurant that would be a mix of our favorite eateries in Raleigh, NYC, Dallas, and Austin. We would often cook out at each other’s houses and elaborate on these grand ideas. Then, one day, Jimbo approached me and asked if I would be interested in opening a restaurant with him. I told him yes and five months later we were officially restauranteurs.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

What inspired the menu design you created?

The food, for one, inspired the menu. It went through several iterations, but this one just felt right. It had a nice balance of the industrial, utilitarian, yet established look we were hoping to achieve, with a twist of fun and personality. We didn’t want to overdo our menu or offering. We wanted to do a few things really well, and that’s it. To keep things interesting we also developed a chalk board menu so that new dishes were always coming through.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

Are you pleased with the final result?

I could not be more pleased with the final product. Everything works so well together and in perfect harmony. It is, by far, the most personal project I’ve ever worked on. I’ve poured a lot of time, money, heart, and tears into the place. From the logo, signage, icon system, and menu to the murals inside and out… To me, it’s perfect. This wouldn’t have been true if Jeff Rogers and Dana Tanamachi hadn’t came down to bring their amazingness to our interiors. Every wall is filled with incredible custom type and ornate flourishes. I was curious to see how all three of our styles would work together, but it turned out better than I could’ve ever dreamed. The taste of the food and drink, the aromas, the textures of our hand-crafted tables and raw atmosphere, great music, and visuals surrounding you hits every sense. It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching a bunch of people laughing, eating, and drinking in a restaurant that you have ownership in. For a designer, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

Which design or illustration venture has been your favorite to date?

Abi-Haus is definitely on the top of the list, but the Dark Was the Night album is almost tied. To me, it is one of the best indie compilations of our time. A lot of my favorite artists coming together for an awesome cause (aids awareness). I was speechless when I was approached to design the album and ancillary products. It’s hard to describe the feeling of having your designs plastered all over Radio City Music Hall with your favorite bands playing in front of them. I remember seeing someone walk the streets of NYC wearing the t-shirt I’d designed for that album and feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

From talking to Feerer it is clear that Abi-Haus is as personal as it is perceptive. Seeking influence from his own work as well as others this is a team effort, and as such the restaurant reflects that community spirit. Abi-Haus encompasses the importance of inspiration, and is a project that marries design and atmosphere perfectly.

To keep up to date with Abi-Haus over on their Facebook page click HERE.

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana

Photo credit- Ryan Feerer Photographer: Nil Santana