When implemented correctly, brand culture—a brand’s set of values or mission—has the power to attract loyal customers and top-notch staff while simultaneously creating a powerful, positive, and unique reputation for a concept.
Culture should influence every area of its operations and identity, and it’s important for operators to pay attention to how the brand spirit is shining through on a daily basis. FSR asked three restaurant leaders how they develop and strengthen their individual brand cultures, from building a great team and menu to setting the perfect scene to, ultimately, making customers want to come back for more.
Christina Kwan | Creative Director, Whiskey Bird Restaurant, Atlanta
Our goal is to surprise and delight each guest with creative food and thoughtful, attentive service. What we’ve built as a result is a restaurant that defies traditional definitions and fills a void in the Atlanta dining landscape that many people didn’t even know existed. We are a lot of things to a lot of people; unexpected, playful, and refreshing.
Chef Chad Crete has taken familiar ingredients and turned them on their heads to create flavor combinations that are brand new but that make complete sense. He has constructed a whole new template through which you can explore Asian flavors that is approachable yet highly nuanced.
You can also see our culture through the inclusion of Atlanta artists into the design of our restaurant. Our facade facing the street features a collective mural of birds painted by 12 different local artists. On the interior, we also have a large-scale mural that I painted, accented with a neon sign that reads a motto of ours, “Life is Beautiful.”
There is a lot of thought put into every detail of the guest experience. It’s meant to feel effortless, which is why guests are often surprised by their meal and by the thoughtful service. We continue to explore and add layers of our brand culture through the seasons instead of just relying on a singular static vision.
Culture starts from the inside out; you can’t build a culture externally and then infuse it into your team retroactively. Every part of our training and the way we set up our operations is made to empower our employees to take the lead in providing guests with a unique experience. We do have team meetings every day, but that’s not where communication ends; owners Anthony Vipond and Chad Crete are always present and available, working side by side with employees every day.
Jen Cremer and Richard Clark | Owners, Sister, Oakland, California
We are a hospitality-focused restaurant that puts people first, whether they are guests or staff. We believe it comes down to the thought and care we put into hiring a team that really feels like a family.
As far as the rebranding the restaurant space as Sister, there’s a certain “welcome-ness” to it. We wanted people to come in with an open mind. We have a lot of exposed wood, raw brick, natural lighting, and muted colors that are accented by the food. That way when a dish comes out, the brightness of our food creates a contrast with the rest of the space and really stands out.
We’re definitely not the only restaurant doing this, but we feature a sharing menu. It’s about going back to the culture of being at a big table with a lot of people and sharing a lot of different, fun things and exploring. We hope that this encourages guests to also discover some things that are pleasantly unexpected.
To that end, we also have a daily family meal for staff. We take this pretty seriously in terms of having a fun, nourishing meal for everybody and making sure that we all share the time and space together before service.
Ricky Richardson | CEO, Eggs Up Grill
In one sentence, Eggs Up Grill is home to the whole neighborhood, serving smiles from sunup through lunch. We serve real food for real people. We call this “neighbors serving neighbors.” The connections that exist between our franchise partners, team members, and guests are authentic, because franchisees and team members come from the communities they serve. Eggs Up Grill franchisees often partner with local charities, organizations, churches, schools, and sports teams for fundraising and support, helping serve the community—their neighbors.
From the moment guests enter, they are greeted with a light, bright, and cheery atmosphere. Whether at the counter feeling the energy from the kitchen, at a community table shared with neighbors and friends, or in a cozy nook, guests can choose seating options to perfectly suit the occasion or mood.
Oftentimes the restaurant business can be transactional, serving as a functional solution to hunger, but successful brands go beyond this to impact their guests on an emotional level that ultimately results in customer loyalty. In a world where online ordering and delivery are taking over, many people still crave an authentic connection along with good food when they visit a restaurant. Eggs Up Grill is built to do just that—offer a great-tasting, all-American menu and personally connect with guests through warm, friendly service.