Being constantly fascinated by the food and beverage industry I love hearing the backstory of a concept and how it came to be. Why was a particular menu or theme chosen and what’s the reason behind the name and logo design? When we selected our name we wanted to convey exactly what we offered and pair that with a fun and easily recognizable logo. A graphic designer helped us with that, mocking up three or four examples one of which we picked, and we were off. We didn’t stray from tried and true methods already being used successfully and didn’t care to overthink what should really be a fun part of the process.
Here’s an easy exercise: For the next few days pay close attention to as many eating places as you can and look for what colors make up their logos and signage. I guarantee 85-90% of them will have red, black, yellow, and white in some combination. These are food colors. Colors that are supposed to get your attention and even make you hungry if you believe the science. Take a look. Oh, there will be some oranges and few outliers like greens and blues but very few.
This brings us to Zaxby’s and its blue hue in the above photo. Zaxby’s serves up crunchy fried bites of chicken in a quick service setting. They’re a regional player primarily in the South with hundreds of stores and over 25 years in operation so obviously they have a thing. I became familiar with the brand via road trips through the southern U.S. and have eaten there once or twice. They entered our market here in the Midwest around 2014 to compete with the likes of KFC, Church’s and of course Popeye’s and I’m curious as to how they’re faring. While I’m certain my opinion isn’t high on their priority list, speaking as a consumer, if I’m driving down the street I’d have no clue what the hell the place was based on the above photo on the left. I remember when this particular store was being built and it’s lovely. And to be fair this is probably an evolution of the design as there are other iterations but from outward appearances one can’t tell if you eat, buy shoes, or get down on the dance floor behind those walls.
I’m probably not alone. Notice in the second photograph a yard sign was hastily erected with traditional colors including pictures and more information, along with spotlights if you look closely. Winner winner chicken dinner.
I included the next set of photos because they’re so bizarre. As you can see we have two things going on here. The Tilted Kilt and Jillian’s. The Tilted Kilt is open for business and occupies the first floor of this building. Jillian’s was a restaurant and bar on the second and third floor and could be described as a Dave&Busters type joint. Video games, bowling, a couple dozen TV’s, and the traditional sports-bar menu. The thing is Jillian’s has been closed for almost five years. They have literally “left the building.” They’ve obviously left their sign as well so I have some questions:
Why is this sign for a closed restaurant still attached to a building sitting on a prime corner downtown? Did the folks from Jillian’s own the building and left the sign up for generalbrand recognition or some such? Usually when a national or deep pocketed restaurant closes, the signs come down within minutes. They won’t continue to let an ad run for a failed location. At all. The Tilted Kilt opened at least a year after Jillian’s closed. Why on earth would they agree to that goofy appendage for their signage? Was it free? That’s all I can think of. I certainly wouldn’t pay for my brand to be sistered to another sign period, let alone one that closed years ago. What the hell is going on here?
I asked myself these questions as I sat in The Tilted Kilt for research purposes. The concept is not unlike a Hooters or Twin Peaks. A category currently described as “breastaurants.” Everyone was friendly and I have no opinion on this category other than live and let live but I will say the same beer costing me $7.00 there was only $3.00 across the street at Kilroy’s, a home-grown sports bar locals are very fond of. So there’s that.
Upon further research I came across some answers followed by more questions. The Jillian’s space is for lease and the broker lists blade signage as one of its features. I guess the Jillian’s people left the sign when they handed over the keys? Maybe the landlord provided signage as part of Jillian’s original lease package? That’s definitely a healthy five-figure manufacture and installation but peanuts compared to what they were probably getting for a triple-net lease. Why has it remained all these years? What if I want to lease the space right now and don’t want anything to do with that sign? Is there some type of covenant insisting on it being there? The whole thing is big and awkward.
And it makes The Tilted Kilt’s sign looks like a flaccid, partially severed penis.
3 pints Strawberries
2.5 C fresh orange juice
1/4C Grand Marnier
1C sour cream or creme fraiche
Puree all but 6 berries in a blender until smooth. Pour into large bowl. Add orange juice,Grand Marnier and sugar. Add sour cream or creme fraiche and whisk until blended. Cover and chill 1 hour. Slice remaining berries and place on top of each serving.