Johnny Rockets global restaurant chain is celebrating its 30th anniversary year with the debut of a brand refresh that builds on the brand’s heritage and creates a modern evolution of the iconic images, style, food, and experience that have been associated with Johnny Rockets for 30 years.
The brand has been known for its 1950s diner look complete with jukeboxes, dancing servers dressed in the decade’s familiar soda fountain uniforms, and its original burgers and shakes. Fast forward to today and experience the new Johnny Rockets 2.0. The brand refresh includes a new logo, modern restaurant design, remixes of classic music, and pop music of today, new uniforms for servers and cooks, and redesigned to-go packaging. Servers and managers are now wearing black or dark denim jeans with white oxford shirts for servers and dark chalk striped shirts for managers. Waist aprons worn by servers are denim striped with front pockets and cooks wear full bib aprons.
The Johnny Rockets team selected and worked closely with the branding and design firm WD Partners to better understand the needs and wants of consumers and how best to position the brand for another 30 years and beyond. In addition, the brand needed to have flexibility in the design in order to remodel, build, and open new restaurants with smaller footprints and in non-traditional venues, as well as cater to the changing habits of a variety of target audiences including Millennials and Hispanics as they continue to grow with the brand and demand top quality food, great service, and value.
“Every brand goes through an evolution to stay relevant, and we’re no different,” says Charles Bruce, Johnny Rockets chief executive officer and president. “In recent years and prior to the leadership team now in place, the brand made decisions based on a consensus of in-house opinions. Over the last 18 months, our teams, with the help of our branding and design partners, were focused only on the opinions of the people who matter the most—current and future guests. And we listened. As a result, almost every aspect of our brand refresh is designed to be more relevant and engaging to families, Millennials, singles, and our loyal guests who have grown up with us for decades.”
Johnny Rockets Chief Marketing Officer Joel Bulger adds, “The new logo and design evoke a classic modern look that better represents what the brand is today and for the future. We implemented a logo rebranding research study to determine what Millennials and non-Millennials thought about Johnny Rockets. We learned, in part, that the majority of users of the brand were passionate about our food and great service, but admitted that the brand needed an update. Potential guests agreed, saying that a new look would likely impact their decision to visit Johnny Rockets. We will continue to utilize consumer research to guide our decisions about brand touch points including menu innovation.”
Johnny Rockets hamburgers and shakes have been on the menu from the day the first restaurant opened in California in 1986. The brand has been a key player in the better burger category long before many other brands entered the market. The words American Original are proudly part of the new logo. Johnny Rockets has always been about serving top quality, fresh and never frozen burgers but not everyone is aware of all that goes into serving these great burgers and other menu items. The new restaurant design will showcase on its walls the hand-crafted quality and freshness of the brand’s menu, including innovative, chef-inspired burgers, shakes and shareable appetizers.
The brand refresh celebrates a new era for Johnny Rockets, and at the same time leverages the brand’s 30-year history serving its guests. The new restaurant design uses rich, warm wood planking, and white brick veneer throughout the restaurant. The lighting is a mix of contemporary and industrial glass globe pendants with caged pendants and an accent of red color. The dining counter is finished with sleek dark wood siding and a light color counter top giving it a modern feel against the backdrop of the interior space. The furniture includes both upholstered booth seating and tables and chairs with warm grey tones, wood detailing and a splash of red. The open kitchen has white wall tiles and stainless steel wall panels.
Table service and ordering kiosks are available for guests, and a Coke Freestyle drink station allows for customizing beverages. The walls are adorned with freshness cues such as “fresh never frozen 100 percent domestic farm-raised beef” and “fresh, farm to table.” Sayings on the wall include—“you can’t change the truth, but a great burger can change you” and “to make by hand is to create perfection.”
“Special consideration was given to the seating in the redesign. We wanted to maintain some of the elements of the classic diner including counter seating. We’ve updated the seating so that everything is not fixed in place and added areas where friends and family can eat together at communal tables. Different size groups can now be accommodated with the new design as tables and chairs can easily be moved,” says James Walker, president of operations and development.
Walker continues, “The brand refresh will take place in phases in domestic and international markets. The first restaurant that has the full redesign and logo is our corporate restaurant located in the Destiny USA mall in Syracuse, New York. Our existing corporate restaurants will include brand refresh elements by the end of the year. New corporate and franchise restaurants will have the new logo and design, and existing franchise locations will phase in the new elements in the next year. Over the next five months, we will have 15 new restaurants debuting with the new logo and design. Restaurants in new international markets will have the new design and logo as well.”
The easily modified restaurant design and logo will also be part of Johnny Rockets Drive-thru and Express locations. In June, the first Drive-thru is scheduled to open in Mooresville, North Carolina, and an Express will open in Tucson, Arizona, in July.
A larger rollout of the brand refresh and 30th Anniversary is planned in phases over the next six months including a new website, mobile app and updated social media platforms.
Johnny Rockets 2.0 Grand Opening: Destiny USA Mall, Syracuse
On April 15, Charles Bruce, James Walker and Bulger will welcome the media and the public to the brand new restaurant in Syracuse. April 16 will be the official grand opening event with much fanfare and giveaways.
The grand opening will benefit the Food Bank of Central New York. Johnny Rockets is donating $5,000 to the organization. The donation will provide 16,000 meals to people in need in the Central New York area. Guests at the grand opening will also have the opportunity to donate to the Food Bank.
Charles Bruce comments, “Giving back to the communities in which Johnny Rockets serves is an ongoing commitment for the brand. We are proud that our donation will impact and help so many people.”
“As Johnny Rockets moves into an exciting new path, Food Bank of Central New York is excited to partner with them on their grand opening event. What better way to bring awareness that hunger exists in our local communities than working alongside a well-established brand,” says Kathleen Stress, executive director of the Food Bank of Central New York.