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March 2019

7-Eleven – Home of SLURPEES, Beer on Tap and Tacos?

7-Eleven Beer on Tap

7-Eleven Beer on Tap

Beverages are BIG everywhere! It used to be that your drink choices were soda and tea but with more and more people weaning off of sugar-filled, carbonated sodas, the beverage biz is exploding! In our weekly fast casual restaurant reviews #Friday Feed, we have the opportunity to see what’s trending. Flavored teas aren’t necessarily new but they’re definitely more common, fruity teas & lemonades (see watermelon ice tea from Twisted Root), juices, cold brew coffee, sparkling waters, and small batch craft sodas are all becoming big players.

Self-serve tap systems are definitely hot and because they’re pretty, they cross-function as experiential store design elements (see pics of Piada and Bellagreen). Clear bubblers are also becoming trendy again. There’s something about seeing the pretty colors all lined up that makes these beverages look extra refreshing (see pics from Modern Market, Subway and Unleavened).

We’re also seeing more concepts using reach in coolers to offer an even wider selection of bottled beverages, canned beers, juices, energy drinks, etc. (see Velvet Taco and Tacodeli). With the many delivery service providers (Uber Eats, Door Dash, Favor, GrubHub) delivering to homes and offices, bottled or canned drinks are preferred over fountain drinks in cups with ice, lids, straws, etc.

Now let’s talk about 7-Eleven and that Beer on Tap. I LOVED 7-Eleven when I was a kid. While the last 2-3 decades have not been good for this once amazing brand, they are working on a turnaround. They just opened a brand new 7-Eleven at Sylvan & I-30 near Oak Cliff. The signs say “A store like no other”. They are calling it the Sylvan | Thirty “lab” store where it will test new concepts, platforms and products. The store also includes a Laredo Taco brand inside. This store has a wine “room”, a build your own toppings bar for frozen treats, BEER ON TAP, grind & brew coffee machines, bulk snacks and candy. A bonus for a store design nerd like myself, they have LED strip lighting under every. single. shelf. to highlight the beautiful bags of candy and snacks.

Following Amazon Go, The “lab” store is also testing “Scan & Pay” – you grab the products you want, scan them with your phone’s camera and pay with CC, DC Apple or Google Pay. Now you’re free to skip the line, you just scan your QR code at the “confirmation station” (a little white acrylic box on the counter by the front door) and get on with your day. I’m going to try it this weekend for sure. Cool stuff 7-Eleven, I’m ready for your come-back!

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

Burger Wars

Burger Wars Collage

Burger Wars Collage

BURGER WARS! We’ve reviewed 10 plus burger joints on #FridayFeed. One question remains, who has the best burger in Dallas? Leave us a comment below with your favorite.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

Rex’s Seafood & Market

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Rex’s Seafood & Market on NW Hwy and Hillcrest in Dallas.

Order Up!

Rex’s has a super popular location at the Farmer’s Market and we heard they were opening a traditional location near Highland Park. Rex’s doesn’t really fit into a fast casual category – actually we don’t know any seafood concepts that do. You go from Long John Silvers (fast) to Joe’s Crab shack (casual) pretty much, right? But – we haven’t reviewed any seafood yet and figured it was close enough. AND, we heard that Coeval had done the design – more on them later – let’s talk food.

Upon entry, we were greeted by a server who offered us a look at the “market” case of fresh seafood, a seat at the bar or a table for two for lunch. We chose a nice booth along the wall where we had a good view of the open space. The menus were nicely designed and pretty – not a piece of paper on a clip board or busy laminated kind with cartoon photos of crabs and such. Colors are a deep ocean blue and butter yellow.

I love lobster bisque so I ordered a cup to start with and the parmesan crusted Tilapia with fried Brussel sprouts and cheesy grits for my entrée. Danny ordered the fried shrimp basket with fries and broccoli with a side of jalapeño ranch. The bisque was perfect. Creamy, velvety, yummy. The tilapia came with a lemon butter sauce on top and it was delicious. Fried Brussel sprouts  – yum. Cheesy grits – could have been cheesier. I love grits so I inquired about shrimp & grits which they said they have on the weekend brunch menu. They offer a nice selection of desserts and ice cream as well .:) They have daily specials and a sweet happy hour special M-F from 3-6 – Gulf Oysters $1 and Premium Oysters for $2 each and $2 off all draft beer and wine.

Environmental Branding:

Rex’s has a really nice neon script logo sign on a background of clean plank wood and a storefront of windows so the natural light is really nice. The overall interior design is really buttoned up. They chose a nice mix of materials and colors and have several unique design features. The nods to “seafood/ocean” were more like home decor than pier & bait shack – I didn’t see one galvanized bucket of crackers or a lifesaver or net and buoy – thank goodness! I’d call it refined casual – a great middle space between a crab shack and an Oceanaire – a neighborhood restaurant where you can get beautiful fresh seafood for lunch or dinner or pop in and have a cold draft or glass of wine while you have the market steam some clams for take out.

Since our reviews include interior design, we like to give credit to the designers. Coeval Studio is responsible for the design and have worked on so many great concepts – Whistle Britches, Liberty Burger, El Bolero, The Rustic, Happiest Hour…nice work!

Branding DNA:

Great logo, nice menus, pretty interior. The only thing missing was a view of the ocean.

Digital Branding:

Rex’s Seafood has a great website. Easy to navigate, parallax scrolling and user-friendly online ordering for pick-up. Their social media accounts feature great lifestyle photographs, mouthwatering food imagery and even some shout outs to their suppliers. Their supplier spotlight is brilliant! This shows customers that they put thought and care into where their ingredients come from.
–Danny

Score:

MJ and Danny give it an A.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy Neon

Hopdoddy Neon

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Hopdoddy in College Station, Texas, Whoop!

Order Up!

Hopdoddy is an Austin-born brand and has 35 locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas (22 TX locations). You enter to an order line which directs you to the counter where you can order from a menu of “burgers, sides, shakes & bar”. They tout handmade buns and handmade burgers in their in-house bakery and butchery – most of which have cool names like the Dubliner and the Buffalo Bill and maybe they’re a little “famous” for being one of the few places that has the Impossible Burger – a burger made entirely of plants. Photography and presentation both excellent. They also have a cause – the Goodnight/Good Cause burger for which they donate a $1 for every one purchased. They have raised more than 1 million dollars for local charities. That supports their culture message that they are “part of the neighborhood.” I like it.

This FridayFeed review was a road trip version. Danny didn’t make the trip, but I took 4 college kids with me for this Friday Feed so everyone ordered shakes, burgers and fries. The shakes had those “colossal” straws and looked pretty damn good. Sides menu is pretty simple – fries, fries and salad. I ordered the hand cut sweet potato fries which were good. All of the food was good but after Rodeo Goat, the burger bar is really high so I’d have to put the burger in third place behind the Goat and Liberty Burger.

Environmental Branding:

Hopdoddy (“hop” is for the beer and “doddy” is a Scottish term for cows) is a cool burger chain that doesn’t feel chain-like. I’ll start with the lighting and ambiance. Warm woods, perfect lighting, inviting atmosphere all around. There’s a bar in the middle of the space and seating around the perimeter. A mix of high booths and tables line the wall and There’s a nice upholstered banquette along the order line. Like many brands, they have an open kitchen where you can see people busy prepping orders. Not all open kitchens look that great, but this one looked clean and organized and the sounds and smells really added to the overall ambiance.

The downside to the seating was that we couldn’t all sit together. I was surprised that there wasn’t a community table – who doesn’t design a community table anymore? Maybe it was just this location. 9:30 pm dinner in a college town on a Friday night, this place was hoppin’.

Branding DNA:

The College Station Hopdoddy interior and exterior was designed by Levy from Austin. A google search indicates that Catie Lucey is responsible for a lot of Hopdoddy graphic design – posters and new menus. A disclaimer on her site indicates the logo was designed by a *previous designer.

Digital Branding:

Hopdoddy’s website is one of the better restaurant websites out there. It’s fairly easy to navigate and uses a great flexible grid layout that keeps things interesting. Their Instagram and Facebook do a good job at mixing marketing images and food photography together, but could use more lifestyle imagery like they have on their website. Lifestyle images are key because they let the customer know what type of atmosphere to expect when they visit one of your locations. Mouthwatering food porn will draw people in, but lifestyle photography will make them take action and visit your restaurant.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives it an A. Danny gives it an A-.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

PORCH SWING

Porch Swing Restaurant

Porch Swing Restaurant

 

Come for the food. Stay for the music. PORCH SWING Restaurant opened to a full house Monday, February 18th in Mesquite, Texas across the street from Town East Mall. 

Porch Swing restaurant is a new concept by seasoned entrepreneur, Antonio Swad, best known for his concepts Wing Stop and Pizza Patron. Porch Swing offers a menu of southern classics – Fried Chicken, Chicken Fried Steak, Ribs, Fried Catfish, Pork Loin, Shrimp and a Grilled Meatloaf. The menu also includes homemade cheesy drop biscuits and a Pie Company baking and serving scratch made pies like Cookie Top Pecan, Buttermilk, Banana Cream and Toasted Coconut to name a few.

The design is a blend of contemporary and classic Southern touches with some unique features including double sided porch swings, a state of the art sound system and stage as well as the Pie Company store where customers can purchase a slice or whole pies in custom branded packaging. Porch Swing has a 3,000 sq. ft. covered patio with a massive fireplace, perfect for meeting with friends or watching a game. The LIVE music stage will host bands every Friday and Saturday night.

Porch Swing is gaining momentum in the press and with foodies from all around the DFW. They have been mentioned in Culturemap, Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality just to name a few.

Studio B acted as the design team on the project handling interior design, branding, custom packaging, photography and apparel. Truly the most fun project to work on EVER! Please go to our portfolio page and check out all of the photos!