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Food for thought

National Taco Day

From Tikka Tacos to So-So Queso we’ve put all 5 of our #FridayFeed tasty taco reviews together in honor of National Taco Day!

 

#FridayFeed Scores:

Velvet Taco Chicken Tikka Tacos. Red Velvet cake. Secret Menu Brisket Nachos. 
MJ gives it an A; Danny gives it an A – click here for the full review
 
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Solid Nachos. So-So-Queso. Meh Interior Design
 MJ gives it an B-; Danny gives it an B+  click here for the full review
 
Torchy’s Tacos Austin-y yet I still like them. Edgy Fun Brand. Diablo sauce yum.
MJ gives it an A; Danny gives it an A + click here for the full review
 
Taco Joint Unspectacular. Good Tea.
MJ gives it an B-; Danny gives it an B click here for the full review
 
Tacodeli Excellent queso & chips. Delicious salsas. Terrible hours (closes at 3). 
MJ gives it an B; Danny gives it an B+ click here for the full review

 

#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

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

Nachos & Burrito Bowl

Nachos & Burrito Bowl

FUZZY’S TACO SHOP – Add Friends and Alcohol

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is FUZZY’S TACO SHOP on Mockingbird near Love Field airport. I went to my first Fuzzy’s in Waxahachie about 12 years ago. Cool little taco shop, good food and that’s all I remember. After doing a little research on the brand, I learned that the original founder, Paul Willis was involved in a ton of restaurants and opened the original Fuzzy’s in Ft Worth, near TCU. In 2003, Father and son restaurateurs Alan and Chuck Bush bought the Shop and began franchising in 2009.  The brand has more than 100 locations according to their website.

Order Up!

I ordered the nachos and made them “ultimate” by adding sour cream, fresh jalapeños and guacamole. Danny got a burrito bowl and we got a side of chips & queso, just because. My nacho order was a huge plate of yummy cheesy, creamy goodness. No complaints. Queso was so-so. I LOVE Queso, especially white queso. It was good but I just needed it to be awesome.

Branding DNA/Environmental Branding:

I didn’t notice anything super special about the interior design here. Lots of bright paint colors, MASSIVE – like the biggest I’ve ever seen – Digital Menu Boards and some nice outdoor seating. It’s ok but it’s just missing something. The interior is just a dining room with seats. I didn’t leave there knowing anything about Fuzzy’s tacos – why it’s named that or what it means or where they’re from, what they’re known for, what’s the deal with that cute fish? Don’t blame me but there’s a lot of pressure put on the experience in the fast casual space now. It’s not enough that you have to make great food with some blingy, instagram worthy items and be ever-present on social media – you have to deliver an “experience” on-site as well. Oh, and deliver. with drones. and CBD, make sure you’re thinking about adding something with that… To be fair – an experience can be had when you add friends, family and/or alcohol – which they have plenty in their small little service bar which I loved. Danny and I visit concepts specifically to see what a brand is delivering so we come in with white gloves and take note of everything we like and don’t like. Overall notes – I don’t get the Baja component. The Mockingbird location needs an update and re-paint. I loved the crazy little bar set up at the register. If I was in college still, drinking with friends at a cooler location, maybe I would love it more.

Marketing Miss:

We decided to go to Fuzzy’s because it was on our list but also because I recently connected with the VP of Development on LinkedIn. I’m also doing some research on queso for another project and I noticed their current promotion online. If you donate $2 to No Kid Hungry, you get FREE chips and queso* *Disclaimer – FREE on your next visit…psyche! Anyway…we got there and I realized that the cashier didn’t ask me to donate and I didn’t see a sign for the promotion so maybe this franchisee isn’t participating or maybe I just missed it. Here’s some FREE data for the Fuzzy’s marketing team: I saw FREE queso marketing online. I saw picture of queso & chips online. I went to Fuzzy’s to get queso and chips. I ordered nachos and STILL ordered Queso and chips. Data results: Queso sells!

Digital Branding:

Fuzzy’s Taco shop has a great website filled with bright color schemes and can be easily navigated. On their site they also have a stream of their social media post, which I think is brilliant! My only issue is the parallax scrolling on the menu page of the website. The images are not big enough vertically to be able to see the beautiful food photography. On their Facebook and Instagram account they mix some marketing with and large portion of great food photography and a dash of lifestyle. They do an awesome job with the food photos, but could use some more lifestyle imagery. Overall they have a good website and even better social media posts, but what they’re really missing is the unique factor that sets them apart from other taco joints.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives FUZZY’S TACO SHOP a B- and Danny gives them a solid B+. This concept is missing something.

#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

Serious Pizza

SERIOUS PIZZA + TATTOOS + TAKE OUT

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is SERIOUS PIZZA in Deep Ellum. I was seriously wanting to review some pizza this week. I love the &pizza brand but they aren’t in Texas yet. Mod Pizza is in Frisco – aka Oklahoma – too far north. With a quick internet search of pizza near me, I found Serious Pizza in Deep Ellum, right next door to the famous Elm Street Tattoo. I remembered that they are “famous” for their 30” pizza. EATER indicates the brand is now owned by MILKSHAKE CONCEPTS (Imran Sheikh, Citizen, Stirr and Vidorra) but founders Mike Turley and Andrew Phillips are still involved in Ops and culinary.

Order Up!

We ordered the Deluxe 30” pizza which has homemade dough and sauce, topped with pepperoni, italian sausage, bell pepper, black olive & fresh mushrooms. We didn’t order any sides or extras but we did see they had a cooler with some gelato and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They were sold out of the logo’d T-shirts but they had some “Supreme” styled Serious Pizza logo shirts for $25.

Branding DNA:

We usually review brands that have multiple locations and call out the work of the interior/brand firms that work on the projects, oooh and ahh over cool design features, etc. SERIOUS PIZZA has one location. I’m pretty sure the only artist or designers behind the brand involve the tattoo-esque logo and wall art and the guy that throws that massive pizza dough – which, that IS an art. I definitely  give them props for the entertainment element.

 

Chalkboard menu, random cool stickers stuck on everything. It’s basically a really good New York style thin crust pizza joint with a Texas sized novelty 30” product that occupies a stinky, dirty Deep Ellum bar space that has been every kind of bar since the 80’s. The spaces where they were making the pizzas looked ok but OMG – I hope the lease negotiation and renovation that CEO Imran Sheikh refers to in the Eater article is in progress. My advice is to get it to go and enjoy pics online until that happens.

Digital Branding:

Serious Pizza’s website could take a lesson from their social media accounts. Unlike their website, their Facebook and Instagram feature great candid photos of their delicious pizza with just the right amount of marketing. Their website is a pretty simple one page site and could use some love especially their about section. Under the info tab in the About section it only states “Huge Pizza!!! Slices & Beer!” While this could be seen as clever on their part, I see it as being just plain lazy. Under the hours tab in the About section it says “ No opening hours found.” How are your customers suppose to know when and what days you’re open? This is your website and more often than not it’s many consumers first impression of your restaurant. The lack of photographs on their website is baffling to me! Especially since their social media accounts have such great photos. A simple coding fix would push the beautiful food photography from their social media to their website and drastically change potential customer’s opinions. Serious Pizza could use more of a digital presence and it all starts with the website! While social media is great for promoting your brand, it should NOT be the only source of your digital presence. Especially in this day and age where there is a ton of amazing website templates available and all you have to do is plug in your info and upload your images.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives SERIOUS PIZZA an A if you’re doing take out and a C- if you dine in during daylight hours or if your sober. Danny gives the food an A- and the website a C-.

#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

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

Deep Dish Cookie

7-Eleven Designed Deep Dish Cookie

7-Eleven Designed Deep Dish Cookie

Deep Dish Cookie Hits 5,000+ 7-Eleven store shelves!

We designed a line of sweet treats for client Michael’s Cookies which included Deep Dish Cookies, Cookie Brookies, Cookie Bombs and Ready-to-eat Cookie Doughs. Last month, the Deep Dish Cookie debuted in more than 5,000 stores. While 7-Eleven’s design team modified the packaging, we are proud to say Studio B helped get this sweet product to market!

YOLK

Countryside Skillet & Pancakes

Countryside Skillet & Pancakes

YOLK. Handling your Huevos since 2006.

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is YOLK in Preston Center. The concept was developed by Taki Kastanis who was born into the restaurant business. Yolk is a Chicago based brand with 16 US locations in Chicago, Dallas, Boca Raton, Indianapolis and Forth Worth. According to Forbes Yolk has been voted Best Breakfast in Chicago, Indianapolis, Dallas and Fort Worth.

Order Up!

Studio B has reviewed Snooze am Eatery and The Biscuit Bar so we thought we should review Yolk this week. I’ve been to this location but Danny was a first-timer. He ordered the Countryside Skillet and I went for the Patty Melt on the lunch menu. We couldn’t resist trying the Breakfast Mac N Cheese that comes with a sunny side up egg on top. We put YOLK brand habanero sauce on it and it was really, really good. They offered an optional side upgrade with my patty melt of “onion chips” so I upgraded to check them out. Lastly, we ordered a single Pancake of the month which was a Red, White & Blueberry which is a pancake with yogurt, raspberry puree, blueberries, raspberries and whipped cream. Needless to say, we got a LOT of food on this review trip. The Skillet breakfast and the Mac N Cheese were the heroes. Onion chips I had higher hopes for and while the patty melt was good and the buttered, griddled rye bread was DELICIOUS, it wasn’t the best Patty Melt I’ve ever had. I don’t normally mention prices in our reviews but I will say this was a very pricey lunch. The Patty Melt was $15 plus an extra $1.50 for the onion chips.

Environmental Branding:

You’ll see below in the brand section that I love the YOLK branding and while I like some of the interior design, I don’t love it. I feel like the furniture needs a update. I have a particular dislike of this chair style and the blue is a little much, but that’s just my opinion. They do have some nice outdoor patio furniture and they do a great job with the retail section and pastry display. The exterior signage is also nice.

Branding DNA:

Yolk has great retail apparel, packaging, bottled sauces, cute coffee mugs and baby bibs, etc. They have really pretty glass water bottles with the logo and they serve beverages in several sizes of mason jars. Logo’d pens, free stickers, cute take out cups and tray liner. Menus are good. I love the logo. 

Digital Branding:

Yolk has great Facebook and Instagram accounts that feature fun lifestyle imagery and beautiful food photography. A few of their images take advantage of marketing their branded products like their maple syrup and hot sauce. While they have great social media accounts, their website could use an update. They have a brick image background that is pretty distracting and could use a more modern flexible grid layout.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives YOLK an A- and 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

Super Chix

Crispy Stuffed Avocado Sandwich

Crispy Stuffed Avocado Sandwich

SUPER CHIX. SUPER DELICIOUS. Worth every last carb.

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is SUPER CHIX in Addison at Preston & Beltline. The concept was developed by Yum! Brands and sold to Nick Ouimet, the concept founder. Read more about the partnership & expansion plans here. There are 4 DFW locations and one slated to open in Alabama this summer.

Order Up!

SUPER CHIX has the BEST chicken tenders I’ve ever had. SUPER CHIX hand cut fries might be the BEST fries I’ve ever had too. I was planning to order a chicken sandwich before we got there and then this Gouda cheese stuffed fried avocado sandwich with garlic aioli sandwich caught my attention. I ordered it and told Danny to order extra tenders so I could try both. The crispy avocado sandwich must have gotten a little too much seasoning because it was too salty to eat but the cashier gladly replaced it with 3 regular tenders which were game-changing and reminded me to always order the chicken when you go to a chicken restaurant! Danny ordered the Nashville Hot Tenders. Because nothing we ever order is really hot, Danny poured more Nashville hot sauce all over his tenders before dipping into Ranch. He found the heat this trip, haha! We also got an order of cheese fries and while they weren’t actually what we expected, having queso on top vs melted cheddar, they were SUPER delicious! We saw an order of the loaded fries come out and they looked even more delicious – will try next time. I know we didn’t mention frozen custard here which is a big part of this concept SUPER CHIX – “Chicken and Custard” but the photos look great and we saw tons of people ordering cups and shakes so it must be good. Sorry Nick, next visit for sure.

Environmental Branding:

I love bold design so this yellow and black branding and interior design had instant appeal for me. So many fun details on the walls, on the floors, in the furniture design and lighting. I suspect that this is one of the early designs and we will see design modifications in future store roll-outs. The few things that seemed to be retro-fit items were the massive digital menu boards which seemed to be a little dark, glossy and blue tinted. The other area that could use some love is the order area and the semi-open kitchen area in full view behind the cashiers. Pretty much just stainless equipment. No graphics, no photos, no inset drink well, no custom counter display. There was also a giant white plastic bucket of iced bottled beverages on the counter. Too big and too tall for ease of use. It was all love after I got done ordering though. I love the layout, varied seating areas and all of the decor. Nice job STUDIO 11 DESIGN!

Branding DNA:

Super Chix has a great logo and signage. The cup and tray liner designs are also really fun. While we were eating, we were watching the digital displays in the dining room which rotated photos from their social media feed and website. The photos are great! They do however, show the food in some packaging that we didn’t get to enjoy. Maybe these cool fry packages and custard pint containers haven’t made it to the stores yet? See pics we grabbed from Instagram.

Digital Branding:

Super Chix has a bright, clean website that highlights the freshness and quality of their ingredients as well as their chicken. Their website is easy to navigate, has a mouthwatering photo gallery, and even has a section dedicated to their flavor of the week frozen custards. They have great Facebook and Instagram accounts, no shocker here, that primarily focus on beautifully shot food photography. In fact, their Instagram feed will make you insta-drool! Overall Super Chix has awesome digital branding, but could use a few more lifestyle images to elevate the brand even more.
–Danny

Score:

MJ and Danny give SUPER CHIX an A! We’ll go back for sure for loaded fries, custard and the pickles we forgot to try.

#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

6 Flavor Sampler Pie

6 Flavor Sampler Pie

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Porch Swing in Mesquite, near Town East Mall at I30 & 635.

Order Up!

Because we’re friendly with the owner, we asked for a tasting of several entrées and sides so we could review more than a few dishes. Here’s what we tasted: Grilled Meatloaf, Chicken Fried Steak, Chicken Tenders and Fried Catfish. Sides included the Broccoli Bliss, REAL Mashed Potatoes, Collard Greens, Cheesy Corn Bake plus Cream Gravy, Rib Sauce, Hot Honey and steaming hot Yeast Dinner Rolls. I kid you not, the grilled meatloaf was outstanding! It comes with it’s own meatloaf gravy which was sublime. The Cheesy Corn Baked is corn, butter, cream cheese and jalapeños – SO good and has a nice little kick. Broccoli Bliss is fresh broccoli florets with shredded cheddar cheese and cranberries mixed with a creamy homemade dressing – a nice take on a cold salad. The REAL mashed potatoes were REAL good, especially with the cream gravy which I will put on everything. Last note – the house made Hot Honey is a beautiful red orange color, has a subtle but noticeable heat. Hot Honey is available for sale in the Pie Company store. Speaking of pies, Porch Swing features homemade pies sold in the brand-within-a-brand Pie Company store. I ordered a 6 flavor sampler to take to an Independence Day event. Toasted Coconut Cream, Homemade Banana Cream, Ol’ Fashioned Buttermilk Custard, Cookie Top Pecan, Cheesecake and Lemon Cream. I had a bite of every single one. All amazing.

Environmental Branding:

In the spirit of transparency, Studio B was responsible for the interior design so we think it’s great but so do so many others! This concept has gotten a lot of press. The owner is Antonio Swad, the founder of Wing Stop and Pizza Patrón. Antonio had a vision for this restaurant and he was able to communicate to us in a way that we could translate it to the space.  It’s quirky, it’s Southern but it’s polished. In fact, Mr. Swad has coined the term “Polished Comfort” to describe his latest restaurant venture. Finish details include custom stained maple butcher block tables, custom made branded picnic tables for the porch, custom branded sconces, a steel rolling pin for the door handle of the pie shop. The list goes on… The review isn’t complete without mentioning the massive outdoor covered porch and the Porch Swing LIVE stage where bands perform every Friday and Saturday Night. Guests are welcomed to get on stage, grab a guitar and take photos in front of the neon marquee.

Branding DNA:

Studio B was also responsible for the branding and packaging at Porch Swing. A version of the logo was given to us in the beginning and the color palette was established. Beyond that, we designed the sign package, menus, custom packaging, apparel, retail items, etc. The Pie Company is a separate brand within the restaurant and uses complementary graphics and colors. Individual pie slices to-go come in a cute little box with branded belly band and fork. Whole pies are sold in custom two piece pie boxes.

Digital Branding:

Porch Swing has a beautifully designed website by Raze Media. Their website uses amazing food photography, is easy to navigate and engages the user. Porch Swing has Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts that they post to quite frequently. Their social media highlights the mouthwatering food and the live music performing every Friday and Saturday night with a dash of marketing.
–Danny

Score:

We give Porch Swing 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

Taco Joint

The Disaster

The Disaster

“Simply Tex-Mex” “Simply Ok” This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Taco Joint in Preston Center.

Order Up!

I like tacos and I love queso, so taking a preview of the menu on the website, I was prepared to order the “Disaster” which is a big bowl of cheesy queso with meat, pico and guac and a giant basket of chips. I got suckered into ordering the Wednesday special – the sour cream chicken enchiladas, because obviously the specials sign caught my eye AND because the menu was pretty busy AND I felt “order pressure” at the counter with people waiting behind me. You know what I’m talking about. Danny ordered the Spicy Pork and the Spicy Fried Chicken tacos. As we find at most restaurants, what most people think is spicy is not really spicy at all. I guess spice is different than hot, that’s fair. He said they were “ok but not hot.” The disaster & chips came out first and it was pretty good. My enchiladas were ok but presentation was not great. It came in a round aluminum pan. My issue with the food is that there are so many taco concepts in Dallas that have elevated their food and presentation and brand, that while it might be pretty popular with the locals, I just didn’t see anything WOW on the menu, on the walls or on the table. The iced tea was fresh. 😉 

Environmental Branding:

Taco Joint’s Preston Center location is the brand’s fourth location. It occupies the former Extreme Pizza space. I’ve always loved this space because it has a built in covered outdoor patio in front which I think makes for a nice inviting entry and opportunity to put your brand in the face of passers-by. This strip gets lots of walking traffic and it was pretty busy when we got there with a line at the counter. Beyond my love of the entry, this brand is not very polished like many of the other restaurant brands we review. It reminds me of Texadelphia – just a neighborhood joint with unspectacular furniture and decor. The walls were filled with album covers stapled to the wall. There were some painted murals as well. The menu board is total chaos. Chalkboard-style, filled edge to edge and draped with some colored christmas lights. No signature light fixtures, no feature decor items. Since “joint” is in the name, the environment did meet that expectation.

Branding DNA:

Taco Joint has a decent logo and custom printed cups. They serve their food in red plastic baskets lined with tissue & foil. I didn’t see any custom bags or other branded items. The had good exterior signage. I think part of the mass appeal of this brand is its “joint-ness” and its history. I give mad props to restaurants that make it 11 years and expand because they must have decent food and a local following. I’m just saying that new customers can only judge a place on its current merits and I think it could up its game.

Digital Branding:

We always check out the website before we visit a restaurant. The design of the website was pretty good I thought. Great use of color, graphics and typefaces. I only had issue with using the menu. I’d prefer that Breakfast, Lunch/Dinner and Tacos/Combos were one scrolling menu so I could see everything without having to  click on a different tab. To say their social media accounts could use some love would be an understatement. Taco Joint has social media accounts, but it’s been years since they’ve made any posts. To me this feels like a huge missed opportunity, especially in today’s digital age.
–Danny

Score:

MJ gives it a B- and Danny gives it B

#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