5 Hot Restaurants Offer Modern Ideas to Fuse Their Brand Inside & Online
A customer is searching for a restaurant right now, hoping to uncover that next great find. They ask friends and read online reviews, visit your website, and eventually they narrow down the options and make a choice. If you’re like most restaurants, you like to be talked about—not just briefly mentioned—but given the attention and buzz that transforms an ordinary restaurant into a rising star.
Despite common myths, achieving this goal isn’t a matter of putting in the time and working slowly and steadily. A few up-and-coming restaurants prove you can redefine the rulesand inspire customers to not only visit your restaurant but also actively spread the word. Check out these strategies from five hot new restaurants to fuel your business online and during dining.
1. Aska – A Simple, Yet High-End Strategy
Brooklyn, NY | www.askanyc.com
Aska has a “less is more” approach, featuring only 10 tables and an outdoor space that opens up to the Brooklyn sky. High ceilings and invisible speakers that trickle in a mellow soundtrack give the illusion of more space yet keep the environment intimate and cozy. The restaurant also takes an unusual approach to creating a simple but high-end experience. Prepayment for the experience is taken during the reservation, which fosters secure, steady revenue and provides an effortless dining experience for visitors. They are focused solely on the food, not on splitting or calculating the check. A European-feel is added with a “no tipping” policy, and everything is truly included in the prepayment.
Similar to the interior style, the website design is also simple but high-end. The site features plenty of open space, a black and white modern theme and carefully contrasted photos.
Provide an upscale dining experience through a minimalist strategy with unusual touches, such as prepayment, collaborative staff logistics and inclusion of the tip in the total cost of the food.
2. Han Oak – A Hidden Backyard Experience
Portland, Ore. | www.hanoakpdx.com
Han Oak was described by GQ Magazine as “casual Korean tasting menu collides with Portland cool.” The restaurant, which was named after Korea’s traditional homes, is nontraditional Korean-American family-style. The décor is light, airy and open, with a homey feeling. Added warmth is provided by large wooden communal tables. Some restaurant guests say it’s like hanging out in a beautiful backyard with family while enjoying five-star food, course after course.
In fact, the entrance to the restaurant is so hidden that many guests report they feel like they’re trespassing and taking an unexpected turn into somebody’s personal home. The dining area is casual and opens into a large garden. There are two main seating options: communal tables and the “chef’s table,” where guests can sit around the open-design kitchen.
The website is simple, with a small font size and very few photos on the home page. The site doesn’t do the restaurant justice, falling short of showcasing that beautiful backyard feel that reviewers delight in when visiting the physical location. But it does provide an inviting FAQ section which does a nice job explaining what guests can expect during their dining experience.
Create an experience that feels so cozy that guests will no longer feel that they’re dining at a typical restaurant but instead are eating with a local family thousands of miles away. Location, décor and staff all work together to achieve this desired effect.
3. Kemuri Tatsu-ya – A Blended, Unexpected Strategy
Austin, Texas | www.kemuri-tatsuya.com
Kemuri Tatsu-ya blends traditional Japanese cuisine with Texan BBQ into a powerful combination that guests line the streets to taste. The location strategy of this restaurant is also unusual, as it’s tucked into a residential area, away from the commotion and traffic of the city. Aside from the interesting food, many guests rave about the design of the space. One Yelp visitor wrote, “It’s like re-watching a beloved TV show — you notice something new with each repeated watch.” With long wait times to dine, the restaurant entertains guests while they wait with an adorable drink stand where creative cocktails and snacks can be ordered.
The website design sets the stage for rich cultural experience that diners can expect during their visit. The colors red and black are the cornerstone of the design and a smoky image illuminates the top of the home page, surrounded by beautiful photos of the cuisine. The content is simplistic but useful for visitors wanting to understand more about the restaurant and explore the menu.
This restaurant is generating a ton of buzz by doing the opposite of what its competitors are doing. The location is off the beaten path, but by word of mouth, people are discovering it, flocking to it and are happy to be away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city. Keeping diners happy and engaged throughout the experience, even before they have been seated, starts the dining experience off on the right foot.
4. Tarsan i Jane – A Casual, Upscale Experience
Seattle, Wash. | www.tarsanijane.com
This restaurant is described by GQ Magazine as “characteristic Catalan and Valencian inventiveness for the Northwest.” Situated in Seattle, the interior is designed to be similar to a small cabin nestled in the Spanish forest. One Yelp reviewer wrote that visiting this restaurant “transported her back in time to a wonderful evening spent in Barcelona.” Although the restaurant and food are high end, the dining experience creates an environment where a guest could wear a hoodie and jeans without a second glance.
The space features intricate Spanish details that engage the guest from the moment they enter to the space to when they select 5, 7 or 9 courses prepared by the lovely husband and wife chefs.
The website design is vibrant, using a lighter font, white background and illuminating the page with bright cuisine images. The Spanish forest feel can be felt on the contact page, with a header filled with trees, a beautiful waterway and the landscape nestled in a patch of fog.
This restaurant has found its niche by creating something that its competitors don’t offer: a worldly upscale experience that also allows diners to enjoy that experience on their terms (even if they don’t feel like dressing for the occasion).
5. Spring – A Fluid, Evolving Strategy
Marietta, Ga. | www.springmarietta.com
This restaurant is as fresh as it sounds, with a farm-to-table concept that is apparent throughout the design. Herbs and spices line the walls of the entrance, creating a lush, bright space. This fits nicely with the fresh cuisine; the menu strategy is fluid and constantly evolving. The ingredients constantly change based on supplier availability, creating a menu that changes daily but only features a few delicious options. Yet surprisingly, reviewers said they actually prefer having fewer options.
The design of the restaurant is small, featuring dim lighting, brick accents and bright light. The historical building features open wood beams and ceilings and a rustic, “quaint” atmosphere.
The website design is surprisingly simple, with a single picture on the homepage yet very little content. A handful of photos feature the exterior and interior of the restaurant—but the website’s design leaves visitors craving more photos of the lush, delicious food online reviewers gush about.
Predictability isn’t always a good thing. Spring delights its customers with a menu that is as fluid as the goods of farms and other local suppliers, staying flexible and constantly innovating food designs in a quaint atmosphere.
A Few Last Words
Every restaurant sets out with a group of people, or personas, they’d like to serve, but these examples show how some restaurants are looking at the market in a completely new light. For example, Kemuri Tatsu-ya could have just served up traditional Japanese food in the Austin market, but when they fused that cuisine with locally coveted BBQ—people started to talk.
Evaluate your strategy, look at your current market and determine whether there are new opportunities to create a stronger experience using the locale and the prospect’s personality to your advantage. Adjusting marketing, décor, website, branding and atmosphere allows you to create experiences that not only satisfy your customers but also delight them into spreading the word.
And all that being said, does your restaurant need a little help fusing the interior with the digital experience? We do all that and more at Restaurant Marketing Labs, just drop us a line here.