#FridayFeed Piada

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Piada Italian Street Food at Parker and the Tollway. Piada has 41 locations concentrated in and around Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Dallas. 

Danny and I spend a lot of time looking at fast casual concepts. Italian fast casual concepts are rare if you don’t include pizza. Piada follows the popular “food in a line” model so imagine Chipotle with Italian ingredients. Pasta instead of rice. Piada instead of flour tortilla. Diavolo sauce instead of salsa. Their point of difference is the Piada – a very thin tortilla-like wrap that they brush with olive oil, dust with spices and warm on a stone grill before filling it with good stuff. You can choose a Piada, a Pasta Bowl or a Salad plus delicious sides, which include lobster bisque, calamari, or their signature parmesan or pepperoni Piada sticks. We ordered a pasta bowl with Diavolo sauce, the Italian Trio Piada, a cup of lobster bisque and a parmesan stick. All delicious! The beverage choices are teas, Italian sodas and a blackberry hibiscus lemonade served from a very well designed beverage bar. The thing that makes this beverage bar so nice is the actual equipment they have chosen. Every single item from the beautiful Italian soda dispenser to the containers for the lids and straws were thoughtful decisions. They do a great job incorporating the function with design. This is a nice break from the giant soda machines everywhere else.

The packaging was nice and clean. They have about 5 different sizes of branded paper bowls – all white. Paper drink cups in the same clean white with minimal branding plus a large clear cup with a large simple line drawing of the scooter. Oh, and orange straws. They use brown kraft take out bags which is the only disconnect I could see. The orange is so nice, I would love it if the take out bags were white with that pop of color. We noticed that even the plasticware was branded – something we never see.

Speaking of color, while we were impressed with the thickness and quality of the pricey wood tabletops, there was nothing in the dining room to break it up. Unfortunately it resulted in monotony. Sadly, no upholstery or soft seating to be found. (If you’ve been following my reviews you know that I love brisket and upholstered booths.) Clearly there was a professional behind the branding. Credit goes to Big Red Rooster who also does work for YUM! brands and many others.

The website is nice and easy to navigate although I was annoyed with the screen-size ad for gift cards. Why don’t brands show photos of their interiors? How about a video of brushing that piada with olive oil on that stone grill? Moving on to the CONNECT tab, you can download their app, read the blog or check out their swag. I love swag. But, this is where it gets kind of weird. The photo is an annoyed blonde in a T-shirt that says “SOCIALLY FATIGUED” with some anti-social copy about grab n go. I keep clicking and find a another “Introverted Tee” that says “DON’T TALK TO ME.”

Completely contrary to this, the career/culture page talks about how passionate they are about the guest experience and hospitality. So, if you WORK here, you need to be really nice and hard working and love food. But if you EAT here, I guess it’s ok if you’re a social grump and want to just get your food from the grab n go shelf and run. Hmmm…

Danny’s social media commentary:
Piada’s social media has very clean and professional looking images with crafted copy and content that draws in a younger health-conscious demographic. However, their imagery falls a little heavy on the marketing side with multiple posts with things like gift cards and their odd way of promoting their new grab n go with socially awkward t-shirts. They should mix in more lifestyle posts and let some of the food in their shots look more natural and less staged.

I give Piada Italian Street Food an A for food and packaging, a B+ for the interior design and a “WHAT?” for introverted pride. Danny gives Piada an A for food and packaging, an A- for interior design and an B+ for their social media.

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

#FridayFeed Modern Market

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Modern Market – Farm Fresh Eatery at Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane.

We mixed things up this week by going to the website first. I wanted to see if the branding on the website would deliver the experience in the store. I was instantly captivated by a video on the home page of the cook preparing a salad, grilling meats and chopping. They also tagged a photo at the end of the video of a salad with a wine glass with Modern Market logo. Within 15 seconds – I know that they grill and chop my salad fresh and I can get a glass of wine with my lunch or dinner. Great photos throughout the site mixed in with lifestyle photos – also smart! The founder video in the “About Us” page was also great. As opposed to counting on me to read the information or translate icons to concepts, the founder told me all about eating well and importance of sourcing fresh, healthy food that fills you up and makes you feel good. 

After seeing the website, Danny and I had big expectations and were not disappointed. The interior design was fresh, clean and comfortable. There were walls of framed prints and decor that added lots of color and interest. The yellow metal chairs were comfortable and sturdy. The large video menu boards were bright and easy to read. They offer salads, grain bowls, brick oven pizzas and carving plates (protein plus 2 sides), a couple of soups and desserts, wine and beer. We got our glasses and headed to the beverage station where we had a choice of custom fountain drinks, 3 teas, 3 beautiful lemonades (regular, carrot and cucumber mint) plus 2 coffees.

I ordered the Truffled Artichoke Pizza – in Half Size. I knew from reading the pizza boxes on display that they make their own crust and sauce. Danny ordered the Tender Belly™ BLT+A  on sourdough. We also ordered a had carved plate of humanely-raised, herb marinated beef with chimichurri and sides to-go. We were served quickly and the food was fantastic. 

The packaging was really nice as well. Clear plastic drink cups to highlight the colorful beverages and pretty yellow take out bags that say “Eat Well” and “Be Happy.” I know I’ve used the word “pretty” and “beautiful” so you may be thinking this is a female-centric place but there was an equal mix of men and women and a few families.

Signage, custom door handles, staff apparel and packaging were all very nicely branded. There really wasn’t anything we didn’t like here! I looked around for the agency/design firm who is responsible for the branding as well as who designed the interior but we couldn’t find anything. Add a comment if you know. I think there have been a few versions.

Modern Market has 28 restaurants across Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. QSR magazine reports that MM was acquired by LA Private Equity Group, Butterfly, in February. This happens to a lot of hot concepts and the founders usually justify the acquisitions by saying it will allow for rapid expansion. The rapid expansion part is true. Hopefully the brand is able to maintain what made it great during the expansion because we really like it!

Now back to their website. Modern Market’s website is engaging, modern and inviting with crucial components that captivate consumers. Their social media has beautiful photographs that look professional while still maintaining a candid feel.

MJ and Danny give it a solid A+ for food and branding.

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

#FridayFeed Twisted Root Burger

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Twisted Root Burger in Deep Ellum.

Danny and I chose the original location to review so we could see this brands roots! Deep Ellum is Deep Ellum so there’s not much to say about the exterior. The interior looks like it’s the original. It functions well and it wasn’t dirty, it just needs a new paint job and a little freshening up. The brand is “college burger & beer joint” with stickers on everything so it’s not suppose to look chic but you CAN scrape the tape scraps off of the windows and add some new stickers and paint every once in a while. Upon checking out the website, I see they have 19 locations. I’m going to guess that the newer locations are probably a little “shinier.”

I don’t want that intro to make you think I don’t like this place. I think the branding is fantastic. This brand constantly delivers throughout the experience. When you order they give you a laminated name card from a giant stack of famous people. I was Serena Williams. Oprah was there, Betty White, Ice Cube. That’s cool and everybody seemed to enjoy it. Chuck Norris plays a huge part here. The bathroom was filled with Chuck Norris joke graffiti. I love Chuck Norris jokes.

The fun continues as you reach the tea dispensers. There’s Sweet watermelon Ice Tea and UnSweet Ice Tea with photos of the actor smiling and scowling. That’s funny.

Owners Quincy and Jason “met in culinary school, after jobs in stock brokerages and telephone line repair’, and opened Twisted Root in 2006 making “ gourmet burgers” before they were a thing. Diners Drive-In’s and Dives visited in 2009 which put them on the map.

Probably the most genius thing I’ve seen in a while, was the tv screen that was a loop of the brand story. No volume, just a really well done video that told the story of “everything Twisted Root.” While I was eating, I discovered that they make their own buns, burgers, sauces, etc. They also offer Wagyu beef and wild game burgers. They even make their own whiskey. It’s a great story and it created a “connection” of the brand to the founders which adds emotion to the experience. This brand ENGAGES with its customers on many levels. This especially apparent on their social media platforms. It makes me want to meet Jason and Quincy!

Packaging was good. The burgers were served in branded disposable trays. The cups were branded and their custom sauces were on each table with branded labels which included Quincy’s Grandpa’s Secret BBQ Sauce. 

Let’s get to the burgers! I ordered the Freshman 15 “topless” – that’s a beef patty, cheese, smashed French fries, bacon and a fried egg minus the top bun. JUST the thought of my Freshman year at college added to my enjoyment! Danny ordered The Spicy Goat and a side of fried pickles. We also tried all five of the pickles from the complimentary pickle bar. The homemade custard shakes looked delicious – we just can’t eat dessert if we want to actually work the rest of the afternoon. 

MJ gives Twisted Root Burger Co an A+ for branding and Danny gives it an A.

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

#FridayFeed Dallas Grilled Cheese Co.

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. in Bishop Arts.

Talk about a name that makes you want to eat there! What’s not to love about bread, butter and cheese? They have a very well-crafted menu.

Let’s start by talking about the croutons. Normally a crouton is the toasted leftover bread but these are little squares of grilled cheese sandwiches that are DEEP FRIED right before they land on your salad. No lie, they say people order sides of croutons and I believe it.

On our visit we got the bruschetta bites. They were deliciously crisp and clean. A nice option for pre-cheese gluttony. We split a salad, which was just a salad except for the amazing croutons. Danny got the Bacon Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese and I got the Rustic. Both amazing. I can’t wait to go back and try the Brie & Bacon on a rustic Paisano. They offer Waffle-cut sweet potato fries which were yum. We didn’t get to dessert but I want that bread pudding.

Regarding branding, we love the logo, we love the neon signs and their “story” is right on.

It’s all love until I start talking about the interior design. The interior design is industrial and is 98% metal and wood. The seating was just too much of the same and the chairs were really hard and uncomfortable. I’d love to see some “cheese colored” upholstered booths incorporated. I also think it would be cool to have a semi open kitchen with a big flattop grill where I could hear some grillin’ but unfortunately there was no food theater in this design. This location has a full bar with TV’s. 

Website delivers everything that is needed and their social media really capitalizes on local SMU games. I’m going back for the food and the bread pudding. I give this concept an A for food and a B for environment. Danny gives this concept an A+ for food and a A- for environment.

I want to add one comment to our weekly restaurant review experiences: we see a TON of delivery service providers (UberEats, Favor, GrubHub, DoorDash, PostMates) picking up food. See Forbes article on this billion dollar business.