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Monthly Archives

August 2019

Torchy’s Tacos

Green Chile Queso & Chips

Green Chile Queso & Chips

The Devil went down to Austin lookin’ for a soul to steal. He found Mike Rypka and Torchy’s was born!

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Torchy’s Tacos on SMU boulevard. Let’s be honest, If you haven’t heard of Torchy’s by now, you’ve been living under a rock! They have DAMN GOOD tacos and queso that you’ll sell your soul for. Torchy’s is an Austin born brand and has over 60 locations and more in the queue.

Order Up!

Let’s dive straight into the food. I ordered a Tipsy Chick taco off of their regular menu – grilled chicken breast, spinach, grilled corn, green chilies, and cheddar cheese with a side of bacon bourbon marmalade & a Trailer Park Hillbilly Style off of their secret menu – fried chicken, chorizo, chopped bacon, green chilies, green chile queso, cheddar jack cheese, and pico. If you know me, you know I love chorizo and have an unhealthy obsession with queso so this taco is by far, my all time favorite taco! MJ ordered the Green Chile Pork taco & Crossroads. And of course we had to order some Green Chile Queso & Chips to share. We didn’t get one this time, but they also have feature taco of the month similar to Velvet Taco’s Weekly Taco Feature (WTF).

Branding DNA:

Torchy’s is a brand with Austin attitude. I would consider them one of the more ballsy fast casual restaurants. Not too many restaurants would use a baby devil for their mascot and DAMN GOOD as their tagline, but Torchy’s does! They started out as a food trailer in Austin by chef and founder Michael Rypka. They’ve kept some of that same grit as they’ve expanded into the fast causal market. Not only does Torchy’s have DAMN GOOD tacos, but they also have DAMN GOOD branding. They have branded shirts, hats, baby onesies, matchbooks, custom bottled Diablo hot sauce, and even their own soda-Pucker Up Punch.

Torchy’s restaurants are eco-friendly, something I wasn’t aware of until I visited the culture page of their website. They only use responsibly and ethically sourced ingredients which really shines in each of their tacos. They also only stock napkins, cups, and cutlery made from 100% renewable resources and turn their cooking oil into car fuel. In addition, Torchy’s donates tacos, time, and resources to a variety of charities.

Environmental Branding:

The devil baby, the exposed bulb lighting, the road reflector walls, concrete, steel, the whole cycle shop/tattoo parlor look is awesome. It looks and feels authentic.* Funky brass retro light fixtures, big graphic tiles, a bunch of COOL T-shirt designs – it all just really works. I’m not a big fan of the lacquered plywood but it fits with the space. We’re not sure who to give the logo and design credits to. It looks like a lot of people have been involved but we’re all in. Torchy’s brand really has street cred.
*Authentic like: they have real founders and struggles and stories vs being created in a conference room designed to “create” appeal to customers.
–MJ

Digital Branding:

Torchy’s website breaks the conventional mold and I wouldn’t expect anything less. They have a nontraditional header, beautiful food photography, and a website that is easy to navigate with a gritty tattoo-esque branded pattern. They have great Facebook and Instagram accounts that feature a mixture of mouthwatering food photography, fun lifestyle imagery, and a sprinkle of marketing. Overall, Torchy’s is a brand with attitude, great branding, and most important… great food!

Score:

Danny gives Torchy’s an A+ and MJ 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

Start

Start Burger

Start Burger

START. by maybe changing your name but DON’T STOP cooking those awesome Start Burgers!

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is START on Lemmon Avenue. The concept a healthy FAST FOOD restaurant with a drive through. Think McDonalds with tasty, healthy food! Start is a Dallas based brand with 2 locations open from 7am to 11pm, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and catering.

Order Up!

I’m going to start with the START Burger. In a word, amazing. Seriously, this burger competes with my unhealthy love of Rodeo Goat. The Start Burger is a grass-fed beef burger patty, applewood smoked bacon, white cheddar, red onion, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce and homemade dijonnaise on a really fresh and tasty wheat bun. I know that ingredient list doesn’t sound crazy unique, but it was so fresh and the flavors were all just perfect. Danny ordered the BLT and sweet potato tots. He said it was the second best BLT he’s ever had; East Hampton’s version being his favorite.

They don’t fry anything but the baked tater tots were crispy and delicious. They make their own mayonnaise and dressings. They also have a flourless chocolate cake that is gluten free and made with quinoa. Because this was our first time at Start, we were given a bite-sized cake “on the house.” You would never know it was made with quinoa, it was decadent and delicious. We ate them before we could get a picture, sadly. “Everything” is either humane, antibiotic, hormone and nitrate Free, organic, filler-free, scratch made, fair trade, shade-grown, you get it… They use paper straws, eco friendly packaging and don’t use fryers, aspartame, corn syrup or plastic water bottles.

Branding DNA:

We normally review fast casual brands so the expectation is branded paper goods or sometimes on glass plates with real silverware. We forgot we were in a fast food environment until our food came out in unbranded packaging wrapped to-go on a bamboo tray. Once we unwrapped it, the food looked great. The take out bags are stamped and the cups are logo’d but no custom branded packaging really anywhere else, including the menu boards.

MJ’s Brand Commentary:

What’s cool about Start? It’s a Healthy, Fresh FAST FOOD CONCEPT with mass appeal potential (more so than a typical salad and wrap concept). The challenge with Start is getting customers to try them as an alternative to other fast food brands.” I’ve driven past this restaurant on Lemmon fifty times. I thought it was a breakfast place. I never even considered going there. The name, the logo and colors and exterior just don’t register as a fast food place or a lunch place. I’m not saying those elements are all wrong but when you’re trying to change the habits of the general fast food eating public (GFFEP), you’ve got a tough road ahead. So let’s say you’re NOT trying to convert the GFFEP and you’re just trying to be a healthy, fresh and fast restaurant that has a drive through – that’s also unique. I still have a problem with the name.

Environmental Branding:

If you go inside, you’ll find contemporary materials, wood tables and booths, community table with really nice, wide-seat stools. A few touches of orange but beyond that mostly neutral natural woods, unfinished particle board used as wainscoting and booth framework. Then there are painted trees and orange birds on the walls which unfortunately look too much like a daycare center or children’s ward in the hospital. We’ve reviewed Modern Market (cool “unisex” design) and Unleavened which I would call healthy, clean eating places. Start has a better overall menu in my opinion because you CAN get a hearty burger and tots but you can also get a great salad or wrap. I only wish the brand had a different name and was a touch more masculine. The blue birdhouse, the murals, the low-energy music and the general vibe just wasn’t comfy or hip. I’d love to see somebody take a super BALLSY approach to this emerging restaurant segment. Like a healthy menu & drive through with a Torchy’s attitude. 

Digital Branding:

Start’s website is fairly easy to navigate and has all the things you would expect from a healthy fast casual concept’s website; their story, press, online ordering, catering and their menu. Their Facebook and Instagram accounts showcase mouthwatering food photography, but leave much to be dissed in way of lifestyle marketing imagery. Having a balanced mix of food and lifestyle photography drives sales and customers into your restaurant. In short, the food is the big hero at Start.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives START an A for food; C for branding and Danny gives it A for food and a B- for branding.

#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