Update: RedEye Diner is coming to the Epicentre to feed you

As a reminder, the people behind Midnight Diner in South End have decided to open a new location in the EpiCentre (in the old La Tagliatella spot next to Mortimer’s) and are calling it RedEye Diner. Perfect.

Eddie South, the current GM of Midnight Diner, will be promoted to president of operations; Chef Lee, who crafted the Midnight Diner, will be in charge of the menu at RedEye.

Mimi Williams of Starr Design told us, “We were looking to feed off the energy and excitement of the EpiCentre, while creating a distinct and relevant space. We began by thinking about what customers would truly want out of an uptown diner – and used that to intentionally design a restaurant that people can truly connect with.”

The original content of this post was featured on Charlotte Agenda and written by Jason Thomas. Read the full article here.


Trend: Incorporating Fire in Design

“Everyone is drawn to fire,” says Tim Byres, the executive chef and partner of Smoke in Plano, Texas. “Everyone has memories of fire, so there’s a nostalgia element to it.”

There’s always been fire in pizza and barbecue restaurants, but now more chefs realize the value in this most elemental of cooking methods and see it in experimental as well as tried-and-true ways. “In the last two to three years, we’ve seen an emergence of people focusing on food sourcing,” says Steve Starr, owner of Starr Design in Charlotte, N.C. “What we’re seeing now is the next step in sophistication in how food is produced, and fire becomes a critical element in that, especially when there’s an authenticity to it.”

The original content of this post was featured on restaurant development + design and written by Amanda Baltazar, Contributing Editor. Read the full restaurant development + design article here.


Franchising and growth: Expanding into non-traditional spaces

In the restaurant world, it’s vital to remain active and growing. Without an ongoing corporate culture focused on expansion, you’ll quickly get outpaced. But as restaurants expand, executives are forced to address the problem of limited A-list real estate options. This means operators will continue to enter non-restaurant ready or non-traditional spaces as a way to increase brand awareness.

When entering into non-traditional restaurant formats like food courts, universities & airports, re-developing a concept to fit these new operational structures is no easy task, although it can be done and with great success. Here is what operators should keep in mind in order to master and succeed in non-traditional formats.

1. Make the necessary operational and service model changes.

In a traditional format, you typically have a complete and discreet operation dedicated just to your concept. Everything you need is in your space. While you may have a separate servery and cookline in a non-traditional format, other operational processes can be allocated to shared space. These can range from coolers and storage, to prep facilities and ware-washing. Other operational changes may also be required based on the new format. For example, stores that traditionally have food runners or wait staff may eliminate that position altogether, as customers often pick up their food from the window or counter.

Restaurant operators should come up with a separate established playbook for these non-traditional locations. It’s typical for each new location to require its own operations manual so the owners can maintain operational control and consistency from one location to another.Keep in mind these non-traditional formats may also create unique franchise relationships because they are often run through contract service providers rather than individual franchisees. This can lead to added complexities and opportunities, so give these agreements and locations more thought and planning on the front end.

2. Maximize your opportunities for clear brand expression.

This is big from a design standpoint because your brand communications will be based on the size and format of the available non-traditional space and may well be subject to the overall facility’s design requirements. While this is a more subtle change than the operational ones, it is an important one. What you choose to communicate will affect your overall brand equity and awareness so make sure toselect the most important messaging points tied to your brand. In a non-traditional space, your guests are only exposed to a snippet of your intended customer experience. Not only are there fewer direct interactions with diners, there is significantly less square footage in the space. So make sure what you say, and where, has significant impact. Brand expressions should be evident in the materials and forms you choose you’re your counters and transactions spaces as well as  on point-of-purchase signage, menus and menu boards. Where and how you position your marketing collateral should be clearly laid out in the beginning, so every moment in the space is intentionally designed.

Featured on Fast Casual.


How to build a multi-sensory experience in the retail environment

It takes a lot of work for retail brands to deliver a remarkable experience. It can be done, however, by making sure the environment touches each of the five senses.

A sensory experience affects a human’s senses: sound, sight, touch, smell and taste. Retailers often naturally focus on sight, primarily caring about how the space. But what they don’t realize is that the look and feel of the environment encompasses a lot more than simply how it appears.

In order to create a distinct and intentional sensory experience for guests, pay special attention to the feel of the space and appeal to their senses of sound, smell and touch. Since retail operators are often serving customers with diverse motivational drivers and backgrounds, it’s important to hit on enough factors to create a remarkable experience.

Sound

Different retailers function best under different noise conditions. You need to decide up front what you’re looking to establish in the space. Are you creating a festive, social vibe, or are you going for a quiet and calm setting? It all comes down to brand messaging. Once you’ve decided on your goal, you can use an intentional combination of specific music along with specific material selection focused on acoustic control.

Smell

Scents can be established in a variety of ways. Using the pressurization associated with your HVAC system and the hood exhaust system, you can control the smell within your retail space.

Touch

There are two ways customers can experience the sense of touch: literally and figuratively. A person can physically touch different finishes in a retail environment based on surfaces that feel natural, solid, textured, soft, hard, plush, layered or comfortable. And, the way these textures look can even affect your guests’ “sense” of touch. These literal implications set the tone for the way your store may feel to the customer.

Retail operators typically approach this sense of touch in two different ways. While some go out of their way to define a customer’s personal space, others breakdown the definition of space to make their establishment feel more communal. Additionally, different table styles can impact the way a person feels in the space. How you approach this sense of touch will be determined by the type of environment you are trying to create.

Sensory experiences exist almost everywhere in your retail environment, whether they’re deliberately planned or not. Executing an experience that touches on each sense can be a challenge, but should always be intentional. It's  best to break them down into their own experience rather than tackle them all at once. This way, you have a better idea of where you want to go and what you want to accomplish with each.

Featured on Retail Customer Experience.


How to make $1 million in a single year (Advice from 10 Successful people who have actually done it)

A million dollars ain’t what it used to be, but it’s still pretty good money--especially if we’re talking about annual income, as opposed to net worth.

So, how do you get to that milestone? Since I haven’t done it myself (yet), I reached out to a group of people who actually have made at least $1 million a year. (Hint: If you didn’t inherit a fortune, it’s all about entrepreneurship.)

(hint: steve made the list!)

The original content of this post was featured on Inc. and written by Bill Murphy, Jr. Check out the full list and responses here.


Finding your 'Purple Cow:' 3 ways to connect consumers to your brand

A truly noteworthy restaurant is one that captivates people and makes them feel connected to the brand. But with extensive competition in the industry, how can you facilitate this desired connection with your customers?

From our perspective, it starts with the desire to become remarkable. Being remarkable is much more than creating an excellent product and delivering superior service; it’s about designing a space that customers can relate to.

What does it look like to create a remarkable experience? The answer lies within your environment. While the food and service need to be noteworthy, it’s the environment that sets the expectation for what the restaurant delivers. If the products are top notch but the design is underdeveloped it’s still ordinary. You need to create an environment that’s inspired by the target audience, which will inevitably affect them on both an intellectual and emotional level.

This doesn’t mean that every store needs to be on the bleeding edge of trends or crazy expensive to be remarkable. But they do need to connect with people’s emotions. And it’s nearly impossible to create this kind of environment without first putting in the time to identify and subsequently research your target audience. In the end, you’ll be able to create a space that’s relevant, inviting and remarkable.

To turn an idea into a remarkable experience, follow these three steps.

1. Identify your true target customer. Focusing on a well-defined target audience will help you establish clear and consistent objectives for your concept. This doesn’t necessarily mean excluding everyone else. It’s simply about creating a space that reverberates with the people that will have the most influence on your business’ success. There’s something to be said about having a distinct brand. If you aim to appeal to everyone, you run the risk of appearing watered down and ordinary.  However, if you specifically design with your target in mind, your peripheral customers will often follow.

2. Research their motivation.In order to best understand your customers, it’s imperative to conduct analytical research to determine what motivates their decisions. This is especially important when deciding what will appeal to your audience. Think to yourself, “Would this attract my target?”To do this, we begin our design process by conducting a set of brand discovery exercises with our clients that combine right brain and left brain thinking. This takes into consideration brand personality as well as strategic positioning. We have found that this intentional approach helps restauranteurs better understand their business, culture and aspirations as well as their target market.

3. Make the experience remarkable. Now that you’ve done the background research, it’s time to touch on emotions. In the book ,"Purple Cow," author Seth Godin explains how even beautiful grazing cows in picturesque pastures no longer remain interesting after you’ve seen enough of them. But stumbling on a purple cow would capture anyone’s attention. Creating a store that causes people to tilt their head in wonder – now that’s something worth going after. Among a sea of ordinary stores (and cows), consumers are looking for places that stand out — something that excites them. It’s vital to create that feeling with your experience.

People tend to view spaces as a unified whole, rather than individual parts. In designing a restaurant, it’s important to recognize that customers often don’t perceive the details unless they’re wrong. If a customer enters a well-designed space that hits their emotions, they may not be able to describe why they like it, but the environment simply feels right. Using lighting, signage, art and graphics to create function as well as feeling can help your customers relax and be at ease to enjoy the experience. By creating a well-choreographed journey through the space with clear visual and messaging hierarchy, customers won’t feel tense or out of place. Add in a few unique and distinct design elements — and your target audience will be raving about their visit. You’ll create your own purple cow — and that’s something truly remarkable.

Featured on FastCasual.


Zoe's Kitchen Restaurant Brand

how to connect people to your restaurant brand

be remarkable.

A truly noteworthy restaurant is one that captivates people and makes them feel connected to the brand. But with extensive competition in the industry, how can you facilitate this desired connection with your customers?

From our perspective, it starts with the desire to become remarkable. Being remarkable is much more than creating an excellent product and delivering superior service – it’s about designing a space that customers can relate to.

What does it look like to create a remarkable experience? The answer lies within your environment. While the food and service need to be noteworthy, it’s the environment that sets the expectation for what the restaurant delivers. If the products are top-notch but the design is underdeveloped – it’s still ordinary. You need to create an environment that’s inspired by the target audience. This inevitably will affect them on both an intellectual and emotional level.

This doesn’t mean that every store needs to be on the bleeding edge of trends or crazy expensive to be remarkable. But they do need to connect with people’s emotions. And it’s nearly impossible to create this kind of environment without first putting in the time to identify and subsequently research your target audience. In the end, you’ll be able to create a space that’s relevant, inviting and remarkable.

"if the products are top-notch but the design is underdeveloped - it's still ordinary."

To turn an idea into a remarkable experience, we guide our clients through the following three steps:

Identify your true target customer.

Focusing on a well-defined target audience will help you establish clear and consistent objectives for your concept. This doesn’t necessarily mean excluding everyone else. It’s about creating a space that reverberates with the people that will have the most influence on your success. There’s something to be said about having a distinct brand. If you aim to appeal to everyone, you run the risk of appearing watered down and ordinary. However, if you specifically design with your target in mind, your peripheral customers will often follow.

Research their motivation.

To best understand your customers, you absolutely must do analytical research to determine what motivates their decisions. This is especially important when deciding what will appeal to your audience. Think to yourself, “would this attract my target?” To do this, we begin our design process by conducting brand discovery exercises with our clients that combine right brain and left brain thinking. This takes into consideration brand personality as well as strategic positioning. We have found that this intentional approach helps restauranteurs better understand their business, culture and aspirations – as well as their target market.

Make the experience remarkable.

Now that you’ve done the background research, it’s time to touch on emotions. In the book, Purple Cow, author Seth Godin explains how even beautiful grazing cows in picturesque pastures no longer remain interesting after you’ve seen enough of them. But stumbling on a purple cow would capture anyone’s attention. Creating a store that causes people to tilt their head in wonder – is definitely something worth going after. Among a sea of ordinary stores (and cows), consumers are looking for places that stand out – something that excites them. It’s vital to create that feeling with your experience.

People tend to view spaces as a unified whole, rather than individual parts. In designing a restaurant, it’s important to recognize that customers often don’t perceive the details unless they’re wrong. If a customer enters a well-designed space that hits their emotions, they may not be able to describe why they like it – the environment simply feels right. Using lighting, signage, art and graphics to create function as well as feeling can help your customers relax, be at ease and enjoy the experience. By creating a well-choreographed journey through the space with clear visual and messaging hierarchy, customers won’t feel tense or out of place. Add in a few unique and distinct design elements – and your target audience will be raving about their visit. You’ll create your own purple cow – and that’s something truly remarkable.