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Opinion: SBJ to launch series on restaurant rebranding

Eyes & Ears

Posted online

The restaurant industry is fierce.

Profit margins are thin. Staffing is a challenge. Customers are finicky. And their discretionary spending moves like a yo-yo.

Everybody’s looking for an edge.

Sometimes, that edge comes in branding.

In a new editorial series, Springfield Business Journal is following brand strategists Longitude LLC through the process of rebranding a restaurant, from concept to implementation to outcomes.

That’s where you, restaurateur, come in.

SBJ invites local restaurant owners to apply to be chosen for this series by our editorial team.

Longitude partners Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells have agreed to offer their brand strategy services at no charge to the restaurant in exchange for documentary-style coverage of the process by SBJ.

We’re calling it Made to Order: The Journey of a Restaurant Rebrand.

This column kicks off our application process. SBJ has created a questionnaire for interested restaurateurs to complete for consideration. Our editorial team will review the applications and interview the finalists before selecting a restaurant to cover throughout the yearlong series.

Longitude has no say on what restaurant is chosen for the series. To their credit, Myers and Wells are taking on a new client blindly, yet many eyes will be watching.

The application deadline is Feb. 22, and the series is scheduled to launch in March.

Here are a few of the qualifications we’re seeking in restaurant applicants: in business for two years, with an average rating/review of 4 stars with at least 10 public reviews online; prepared to invest at least $7,500 in hard costs for rebranding strategies recommended by Longitude; full disclosure of financials throughout the whole process with brand strategists and for coverage in SBJ and on sbjLive; and access by SBJ/sbjLive reporters and photographers to meetings and information with Longitude and related vendors.

Coverage in print, on SBJ.net and in video by sbjLive is planned to track the process throughout 2019 or to the extent of the brand strategy implementation. SBJ reporter Mike Cullinan is leading the project in the newsroom, and sbjLive producer Mike Coonrod is spearheading the video coverage. They’ll be checking in regularly with sources to document nearly every move.

You might be asking, who is Longitude?

Most notably, Myers and Wells got the job to create designs for Finley Farms, Johnny Morris’ historic river mill project in Ozark. Their portfolio includes logo design for Brick & Mortar Coffee and Bon Bon’s Candy House, but clients include Bodrum Mediterranean Restaurant in New York City’s upper west side, the Slice Factory pizza franchise in Chicago and a downtown Milwaukee beer hall called Glass + Griddle.

You probably know a restaurant that could use a rebranding. Share this with them. Or you have a client that is seeking a change and would make a good fit. Encourage them to apply.

It could be just the shot in the arm a restaurant needs. I’m confident this opportunity will spread to the right restaurant operators.

I mean, there are some 660 restaurants licensed in the city of Springfield alone, according to SBJ reporting.

The industry is full of activity. In the last month, SBJ has reported on four restaurant openings or plans to open, five closings, four ownership changes or relocations and one name change.

In full disclosure, though, SBJ makes no promises on the results. We’re here to tell the story and provide the business community with first-hand knowledge and takeaways.

What this is not: a local adaptation of the “Kitchen Nightmares” show where chef Gordon Ramsay attempts to turn around a failing restaurant. It can be ugly.

We’re not seeking that disaster. We do expect twists and turns, challenges and victories, real insight into the life of restaurant management and a better appreciation for the dining business.

The table is ready.

Springfield Business Journal Editorial Director Eric Olson can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.

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