This was really only the opening act for Shula’s new team, though. One of the intriguing parts of the opportunity, Freeman says, was the legacy, foundation, history, and underlying culture of a brand with three decades of equity. And not just the restaurant, but also Don Shula’s Hall of Fame career. His 1972 Dolphins remain the only NFL team to go undefeated.
But here was the concern: Was that fanbase aging out a bit?
Kiri says the answer lies in a middle ground of sorts. While some guests might be unfamiliar with Shula’s coaching career and league-record 347 wins, or just not be football fanatics, they can still benefit from what he stood for and how that applies to a restaurant setting.
“This is an opportunity to take a brand that’s very well respected within the communities that it’s in still, but help really reshape that language a bit to make us more current and relevant from where we are today,” says Kiri, who previously developed campaigns for Old Navy and Expedia.com.
So how do you market that? For Shula’s, it started with the physical space.
In May, Shula’s refreshed its flagship location at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. It was the first store to reflect Shula’s new identity and will serve as a model for the chain’s seven other Shula’s Steak Houses.
The company engaged Florida-based design firm Temper to develop an aesthetic that pays homage to Shula, yet also introduces him to younger guests in a relatable way. But perhaps the biggest shift: create a space that shines the spotlight on the restaurant experience itself.