Category

Food for thought

Bellagreen

Tea and Soda Tap
Tea and Soda Tap

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Bellagreen American Bistro at Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane.

Order Up!

This week MJ is out, so Kinsey is stepping up to the plate! Bellagreen has 8 locations with another on the way. We read about this place from Yelp’s Top 10 Best Fast Casual list – appearing at the #1 spot and for a good reason. After seeing the mouthwatering photos and reading a few reviews our expectations were high and we weren’t disappointed!

This fast-casual restaurant that has everything you would expect from a more elevated causal dining experience without any of the wait or price. They have chef prepared meals made from scratch, affordable pricing and they’re serious about their eco-friendliness. Each Bellagreen is at least 3 green star certified or more. Because their food is truly made from scratch, they can modify menu items to accommodate any dietary restrictions from Keto to Vegetarian.

Diving into the food! I had the The (A) Burger – all-natural 44 Farms® angus beef with mixed greens, tomato, house-made pickles, red onion and cheddar served on a brioche bun with a side of house-cut french fries. I know what you’re thinking… it’s a relatively simple order, yet the burger was packed with so much flavor due to the higher quality of beef. I would rank it second only to the best burger I’ve ever had… The Baby Bella from Liberty Burger. Kinsey had the Chicken Caesar Wrap – sliced all-natural grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, caramelized red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan & manchego cheese, tossed with their creamy chipotle caesar dressing & wrapped in a chipotle tortilla with a side of sweet potato fries. Truth be told, I stole some of her sweet potato fries and they were AMAZING! Oh and perhaps the best part of all… Bellagreen’s drinks are all on tap from their tea to their sodas. This is a very unique design component we haven’t seen in many places.

Environmental Branding:

Bellagreen, at Central Expressway and Walnut Hill, is nestled among other great concepts such as Snooze, Unleavened, Houndstooth Coffee, Civil Pour, and Hat Creek Burger Company just to name a few. The exterior has a modern appeal with reclaimed wood, large windows and a great patio area that would be perfect on a summer day. Throughout the interior of the restaurant they have intricate hexagonal floor tiling, reclaimed wood and vibrant greenery. Above one of their booths they have a repurposed wine cork mural that adds a really nice touch. Personally, the only thing that feels out of place is the chalkboard artwork on the soffit above the open kitchen.

Digital Branding:

Bellagreen has a beautiful website that is easy to navigate. On their home page they feature a video of their chefs making various foods and consumers enjoying them. I love this! It engages customers and shows them what to expect when they visit a Bellagreen. On their Facebook and Instagram, they do a great job of showing professional food photography shot from a variety of angles with great contrast. They also have great candid lifestyle photography with just a dash of marketing that isn’t overwhelming.

Score:

Kinsey and I both give it a solid A and we’ll be going back very soon!

#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

Snooze

Smashed Avocado Benny
Smashed Avocado Benny

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Snooze – an a.m. eatery on Oak Lawn in Dallas.

Order Up!

Our foodie network alerted us to this awesome brand opening just last week at the new Oak Lawn location (right next door to the Green Papaya – ya’ll know where that is – plan to valet park). Snooze has 30 locations with roots in Denver, Co.

I love breakfast foods maybe more than the next person so I was excited to go eat breakfast twice before noon. I ordered the Snooze Classic. Eggs, kick ass bacon and hash browns with coffee. Danny got the Huevos Rancheros and our foodie neighbor, Erin, got the Smashed Avocado Benny with substitution of Hollandaise sauce to Green Chili Hollandaise with a Cappuccino. The poached eggs were beautiful! Presentation and flavor of all of three meals was fantastic. They have ample options for all kinds of eaters – tofu, soyrizo, farro, porridge, etc. and of course cage-free eggs. Oh – and I have to mention that they have my favorite hot sauce line here – YELLOWBIRD Habanero and Serrano.

Service was excellent and the staff seemed really excited to work here. I imagine it is a mad-house on the weekends with the brunch crowd but if you’re a drinker, this place has a full bar with delicious looking cocktails including The Morning Marg, Orange Snoozius and five kinds of mimosas.

Branding DNA:

The interior is SO vibrant and full of color. Orange, which is the best color, is their primary brand color but they have a full “fresh retro” color palette. I was impressed right away with the totally branded interior. It’s a brand-a-palooza in there! Not only did the upholstered booths have custom embroidery, they used their logo and icons on practically everything including a wide range of fun and hip branded apparel. The Snooze AM Eatery brand is credited to XAN Creative. I checked them out and they do some awesome work!

Press:

Snooze’s wildly popular brunches land on Oak Lawn in January. Snooze is opening not just one but three locations in Dallas. Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes and Breakfast Pot Pie for everyone!

Digital Branding:

Snooze’s website features beautiful lifestyle imagery, mouthwatering super close up food photography and parallax scrolling. When you visit their site immediately you know the vibe you’ll get when you visit. Their bright and quirky attitude is infectious. It starts with the staff and carries through the entire brand all the way to the customer’s experience. Snooze does a great job in the social media department as well. On their Facebook and Instagram, much like their website, they blend appetizing food imagery with lifestyle photos and add a dash of marketing.
-Danny

Score:

MJ gives it an A for everything but the hours. 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

Velvet Taco

Secret Menu Brisket Nachos
Secret Menu Brisket Nachos

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Velvet Taco on Greenville Ave.

Order Up!

Velvet Taco has 10 locations with the Fitzhugh location being the O.G. The FOOD at VT is the hero. Notice I didn’t say tacos. This is Velvet TACO but really, their menu is a culmination of delicious international dishes SERVED in various tortillas. The flavor combinations are amazing and the menu is not overwhelming or expected. I ordered two tacos. My first was the fried cod with curry mayo, yum…I didn’t bother with the tortilla or slaw and I would have rather had two pieces of cod on a plate. The brisket taco has a comté (French origin – I looked it up) cheese-encrusted tortilla so basically it’s a tortilla with crispy fried cheese on the outside. AHH-mazing surprise. We ordered the tater tots and they were good. The fried egg on top makes a good picture and since I love fried eggs, I ate it but c’mon, the “spork” is no bueno. Next time, I’m bringing my own fork. Danny ordered the spicy tikka chicken taco. Which is crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema and Thai basil on a flour tortilla. Danny says  “it’s the prefect amount of heat and extremely flavorful.“ I hear the red curry coconut queso is delicious. I like curry and I like coconut and I like queso but the I’m not sure I’m going to like them in the same dish. We’ll see next visit!

VT has, what I hear, is a really delicious red velvet cake. When you see a photo of it with the bourbon drizzle it looks pretty tasty but the counter presentation and display needs some serious love! 

Secret Menu:

Velvet Taco has a secret menu item that we are about to blow the lid off of. BRISKET NACHOS! That’s right, Velvet Taco has Brisket Nachos and they’re euphoric! The Brisket Nachos are only on the menu at their Ft. Worth location, but remain a secret menu item that you can get at any of their other locations… if you know to ask. The secret Brisket Nachos are blue corn chips loaded with barbacoa beef, queso blanco, roasted corn pico, lime crema, salsa verde, quest fresco, and micro cilantro. Note that they are a “sides” portion so you still need to order some tacos or queso.

Environmental Branding:

Signage is good. Outdoor seating is nice and there’s a giant colorful mural on one wall. There is also a drive up window for call-ahead orders. It achieves the goal of looking simple and industrial. I wouldn’t call it comfortable but there are some cool upholstered swivel stools all along the window bar. I’d really like to see something soft somewhere in the interior.

Branding DNA:

I like the logo. I like the hot pink. I feel the packaging is a little un-evolved for such a hot brand. I’m not a big fan of the menu board design and the margarita sign unless the “start up” look is intentional and then I guess that’s genius. Velvet Taco has the “indie” look working for them, I just think there’s opportunity to add another layer. If the interior was as rich as the food, that’d be sweet.

Backdoor chicken. Clever. I Like it. Adds a quirky layer to this funky concept.


Digital Branding:

Velvet Taco has a nice website. The left side navigation threw me off so it took me a while to find the “about us” and the “location” info. The “about us” video is great. They should put a link to that on the home page. Their Instagram and Facebook pages mix some marketing images with beautiful food photos that promote their WTF, Weekly Taco Feature. They would benefit from adding some lifestyle images that would showcase their brand style.
-Danny

Score:

I give it an A for food & a B+ for environment. Danny gives it a solid 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

Pie Tap

Prosciutto Pizza
Prosciutto Pizza

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Pie Tap at Market Center and Oak Lawn in the Design District.

Order Up!

Pie Tap has 3 locations and another on the way. I really like this place. The exterior, the interior, the photos, the food, the website and finally, the SPIEDINI (oven fired skewers of prosciutto wrapped fontina cheese served with a small arugula salad). The Spiedini is a Keto eaters dream.

I haven’t really found much reason to leave the “snack” menu yet. Our office neighbor Erin has an unnatural relationship with the Goat cheese fondue served with toasted pecan pepper jam and fresh made rosemary bread puff -it’s nothing less than sensual. Really.

Danny is a pizza guy so he got the Prosciutto pie. It has la quercia prosciutto, medjool dates, pistachio, arugula, house ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano and is topped with a balsamic drizzle. Even though he meant to get the Salami pizza, he said the Prosciutto pizza was a sweet and savory surprise.

In 2017, Pie Tap was voted the Best New Restaurant in Dallas and won Culturemap’s Tastemaker Award.

It’s clear that there’s a chef behind the food and that he’s Italian and it’s obvious that they are having fun here. This place is cool and “neighborhoody!”

Environmental Branding:

When a place is “cool” it’s really hard to describe it because, well, it’s just cool. I’m going to try anyway – one thing about this place is the WARMTH. It is true industrial design but somehow it’s not cold and uncomfortable. I think the open kitchen with two massive and beautiful italian ovens is a big part of it. The smooth warm wood tables and touches of gold upholstery make for nice and toasty interior. It actually smells warm too! 

It’s not a very big place but the layout is great. I pretty much like everything except the blue and green argyle tile wall and the lightbulbs in the bathroom.

Pie Tap was designed by Plan B Group. Plan B is Royce Ring and Alex Urrunaga. They are credited with LOTS of cool restaurants – check ‘em out. Name dropping sidebar: Way back when – I worked on a few projects for Club Nikita – a basement level Russian vodka bar in West Village owned by Russell Hayward who was partners with Royce in Triple R Group. Russell owns Ascension Coffee – another great place just down the street.

Branding DNA:

The design district location has great curb appeal with lots of visibility for signage including a billboard. Window graphics advertise 1/2 price wine. There’s a big pizza wheel sculpture on the corner and outdoor seating. Everything ties in and results in one nice big branding package.


Digital Branding:

Pie Tap’s website has a scrolling banner that mixes mouthwatering food photography with decor and employee imagery that lets the consumer know what to expect any time you visit one of their locations. Their Instagram and Facebook have the perfect balance of food, marketing and lifestyle images. Pie Tap’s photographs look professional while still retaining a candid feel.
-Danny

Score:

MJ and Danny give it a solid 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

Tacodeli

Delicious Tacos
Delicious Tacos

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Tacodeli at Sylvan | Thirty with celebrity guest, Bret Sano from Caliber Creative.

Order Up!

Tacodeli has 10 locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston. Big menu with lots of “Farm to Taco” menu items. Everything is made fresh daily including a nice selection of fresh salsas and sauces. Delicious queso – a little thinner than I like it but the flavor is really nice. Before I talk about the food, I’m going to say what I’m sure so many people say about Tacodeli – Why are they not open for dinner???!” In a city where you can pretty much get anything you want, any time you want, this makes me crazy – like how Chick-Fil-A is not open on Sunday.

They ARE open for breakfast every day and lunch is served until 3pm which would be GREAT for Tacodeli if that location was in the heart of a business district vs surrounded by apartments. I ordered the Frontera Fundido Sirloin with grilled sirloin, jack cheese glaze, and sautéed poblano-onion rajas and an Akaushi Picadillo which is a ground beef, jack cheese glaze, cilantro and onion. Now, I don’t know what Fundido is and I don’t know what a jack cheese “glaze” is but I do know that I like them both. I rarely order anything sirloin unless it’s the fajitas at Uncle Julio’s (yum) but this sirloin was tender and delicious. Bret got the Happy Taco, and the Carne Asada. Danny got the Tacoloco and Akaushi Picadillo. We shared a queso and chips and we sampled all of the sauces.

Environmental Branding:

The interior design at this location is very light and bright. They use a large format octagonal tile in grey, black and white which dominates more than I like. I actually had to go back and look at the photos to remember anything about the floor, tables, chairs and lighting. The dining room has a variety of “hard” seating and this location also has outdoor seating. I wouldn’t say that the decor says anything about the concept. 

Branding DNA:

I went to the website to learn more about the brand. Labeled Farm to Taco, the website tells the story of founder Roberto who was born in Mexico and started Tacodeli in Austin in 1999. The logo was updated just last year, retiring the cartoon Mexican eating a taco (still found at the Sylvan | Thirty location, however). I’d like to see a slogan or something to help me connect the brand a little more. While “farm-to-table”, “organic”, “locally sourced”, have dominated the restaurant scene this last 5 years, it’s time for something new. It might have been “different” in Austin in 1999 but if you’re going to enter the taco scene in the Dallas Market without benefit of your history, you better bring your A-game. Just sayin…

Bret’s Thoughts:

Overall, I’d say the branding is not bringing much new and different to the table. The tone and style of the logotype and brand typography are definitely kicking a casual, approachable vibe, which is appropriate and fits the category. The logotype itself comes across as both custom and stock typeface at the same time. You could see it either way. The style of it reminds me of infamous 90’s gimmick display fonts like Fajita and Remedy, which is not for me, but it’s not nearly as obnoxious as those were. The color palette is pretty standard and basic, which is fine, but again not differentiating itself much. I think the ancillary branded graphics like the t-shirts are a missed opportunity. For me they blend together with a multitude of other Tex Mex restaurants and brands – Chuy’s comes to mind. All that said, the tone and personality of brand is authentic and true to what it is — it’s not hipster food, it’s not elevated food, it’s Tex Mex comfort casual, and the branding speaks to that in my opinion.

Celebrity Guest, Bret Sano is a principal and creative director at award-winning Dallas design firm Caliber Creative. He also happens to be the very first designer I ever hired at Studio B in the mid 90’s when we officed in the White Swan Building (now House of Blues). He and his company do beautiful work


Digital Branding:

Tacodeli’s social media is full of taco and promotional imagery, but showcase only a few lifestyle photographs. In such a competitive market, Tacodeli would benefit by mixing in more posts about their brand’s uniqueness i.e. their farm fresh produce, locally sourced ingredients and their ties to the community.

Something to Chew On:

Tacodeli uses a variety of tattoo-esque illustrations on their tabletops, various secondary signage and even on retail merchandise. The use of this secondary art style should be carried throughout the branding more or remove it entirely. Their primary design of clean and modern clash with the ancillary tattoo-esque illustrations.
– Danny

Score:

MJ gives it a B, Danny gives it a B+ and Bret gives it a 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

Rodeo Goat Icehouse

Brad Sham Burger
Brad Sham Burger

“Rodeo Goat Icehouse is the GOAT”

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Rodeo Goat Icehouse on Market Center Blvd. with celebrity guest, Mike Snyder.

Order Up!

Rodeo Goat has 5 locations. Full disclosure-I’ve been here 5 times. 4 of the 5 times I got the Terlingua Burger. Let me give you the description so you can enjoy it in its full glory: Terlingua Burger: havarti, homemade brisket chili, onion, corn chips, garlic-herb mayo. Mike Snyder (Brinker, Corner Bakery, Newk’s Eatery and currently Partner in Ecotrack), was my “celebrity guest” on this visit. He ordered The Brad Sham. Measuring 5” tall, this burger has bacon, beefsteak tomato, jalapeños, fried onion, cheddar, pickle chutney, and house made bbq sauce. We shared a basket of fries because Foursquare said they were the #1 place for fries in Dallas/Fort Worth. I’ve got hot sports opinions (unwikit) about fries so I don’t agree, but hey, I tried them, again, in the name of research. 

Environmental Branding:

The interior is big and open with high ceilings. Cinder block walls, concrete floors, lots of high community tables pretty much sum up the interior. Aluminum gate room dividers, kind of (exactly) like a livestock pavilion, separate the space between the high tables and a room with upholstered booths. I wouldn’t call it cozy but it matches the brand so there you go. There is a huge outdoor patio with picnic tables, yard games and a view of the “Elm Fork” of the Trinity river which hasn’t really come into it’s own yet. Looks like a grassy ditch but better than looking at concrete and cars and there’s a pretty good view of the city.

Branding DNA:

On the subject of branding, one of Rodeo Goat’s slogans is “WE GRIND SO FINE!” and they warn that the patties may be juicer and messier than everybody else’s. This is true and it is excellent brand positioning! I didn’t see any branded packaging, no logos on cups, napkins, etc. I DID buy a cool long-sleeve goat t-shirt though. Founder Willard “Daddy-O” Watson’s story about “How I Got The Goat” is a great read (located on the backside of the menu). I also love brands with “people” behind them.

Mike’s Thoughts: 

Signage was hard to read. I actually drove past the building. “Was not over branded as I did not see the word- Rodeo Goat on anything in the restaurant except the menu.” “Very engaging menu that made you read through all items. Unique local names that caught a Dallasite’s attention.” “It was a three napkin burger.”

Mike Snyder, former VP of Development at Newk’s Eatery and I worked together on the Gen 2 store redesign. We once remodeled a store together in one night!

Street Cred:

They’ve got lots of INK. People love this place. They’ve been featured in Fort Worth Magazine, Dallas Observer and Thrillist just to name a few.

Digital Branding:

I don’t like websites that force me to choose a location before I am let into the site. However, I discovered that the locations have some different menu items based on location. Food photography on the website is obviously taken in-house. Instagram rocks great food photos, however. Website does an ok job for information but could be much better.

Score:

MJ gives it an A for the Terlingua burger because that might be the only thing I ever order, ever. I’ll go A for branding. Room for improvement on the website. Mike gives Rodeo Goat a solid 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

#FridayFeed Piada

Piada Italian Street Food

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.