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Recently we completed a year-long project with one of Waterbury's most iconic restaurants. We were brought on board to help with a re-branding effort for the local eatery to coincide with their 25th anniversary of being in business.
Arvads Grill (formerly Arvad's Grill & Pub) approached Edgeworks Creative with the knowledge that they wanted to change things up a bit and offer something different than what they had been doing. Having been in business as long as they have they felt as though the other restaurants in town were benefitting more from the beer tourism and foodie movement that has swept the downtown and they wanted to be able to appeal to the new demographic that was dining out in Waterbury.
The process of re-branding a restaurant meant more than a logo or tagline and much more than a website. The entire customer experience from approaching the restaurant, to walking in, to how the interior of the space felt to what was being served and how the menus were laid out needed to be addressed. Our team at Edgeworks Creative happens to include folk with significant years of experience in food service and hospitality, so it was a great match to all around. To get the kind of foodservice experience we have in a local Vermont firm would be nearly impossible in most places, but the stars aligned and proprietors Maryanne and Jeffrey Larkin began working with us in late 2013.
We did considerable research into competition to find a niche that Arvads Grill could fill and to pitch ideas that we felt would be both evolutionary for the restaurant and remarkable. We wanted to emphasize the use of local products (an important aspect of the old restaurant) and improve upon the menus. We worked hard to give them a fresh, hip look and feel and elevate the customer experience. We wanted to ensure that the restaurant would listen to and be responsive to comments from diners and offer a few things that nobody else did. The results have been significant and we couldn't be more thrilled with how they have been recieved.
To start with, we simplified the name of the restaurant. Changing the name from Arvad's Grill & Pub to Arvads Grill allowed for the obvious focus on the grill. We put hand-cut steaks on the menu and continued to offer the same local high-quality Boyden Beef burgers Arvads was already known for. We helped craft new menus and worked to incorporate fresh takes on classic steakhouse offerings like crab cakes and shrimp cocktail. We added localvore, gluten free and vegan options and made sure to pay homage to the items that had good sales numbers and profitability in the past by keeping them on the updated menus.
There were a lot of change to the decor of the restaurant. When Maryanne sourced the shabby-chic shutters that now adorn the upper dining room it was immediately a "done deal" and the feel of the place just came together. Color palette and scheme were decided early on and the print and web materials to be produced were built off of the same palette.
The tap handles that were present before the renovations remained as they are both fun and cool but are now nicely set off by a black wall. Bench seating was added along the wall of the upstairs dining room and Edison bulbs hanging from the new lighting fixtures ceiling completed the look.
Arvads has two murals that have been part of the character of the restaurant for many years - one featuring famous Vermonters in a bar and one with scenes of Waterbury. These murals had previously been visually lost amid the old paint color scheme. With the fresh coats of paint and the ceilings now painted black the murals stand out in a way they never had before and it's just gorgeous.
The table settings themselves were updated to include brown kraft paper and crayons so patrons can doodle away if they wish. This has been popular with both kids and adults! Bottles of water and updated place settings lend the dining rooms a more upscale feel as the tables are no longer empty when diners sit down.
A significant part of the re-brand project involved creating a cohesive feel across all the aspects of the dining experience including the image presented in all forms of media spanning from print to web. This meant taking a close look at what restaurant patrons experienced when they looked for Arvads and when they came to the restaurant to eat. To be fair, Arvads has been operating for twenty five years and while steps were taken over the years to establish refreshed identities for the restaurant, there was never a complete re-brand that touched on all aspects at once. That meant that people arriving at the restaurant were seeing multiple layers of branding and the message was confusing. To get a sense of what we mean by this take a look at this photo which shows what a diner experienced as they entered the restaurant before the re-brand. If you look closely you will see three different logos for the restaurant and a neon sign that reads "cafe". Obviously this confusion was something we wanted to work to eliminate.
We looked at all the materials Arvads was using to present their brand, including the logo for print and web, signage and even the awning outside and had them all replaced so there was a consistent look and feel. The only exception to this is the etched glass in the entryway which still bears the old name and logo. This was both a nod to Arvads' long history and a remembrance of the man who had done that work for the Larkins many years ago.
Perhaps the best way to understand the impact of the re-brand and the work Edgeworks Creative did with Arvads Grill is to see a comparison photo of before and after in the downstairs dining room. This photo clearly shows how the changes have altered the character of the space and therefore the experience customers have when they are seated. It's worth clicking to see the full size photo.
The new Arvads Grill brand elements include two logos - one which is simpler and one which is complete with flourishes. These are used interchangeably depending on which feels right for the intended purpose. The brand elements of typography, stars and swirls reminiscent of smoke coming off a grill are all elements which set a tone for Arvads of balance and a combination of classic and new - much like the menu items themselves.
One of the reasons that Jeffrey and Maryanne selected Edgeworks Creative as the agency for this re-brand project is that we have staff with extensive experience in hospitality, including a former chef of one of Burlingotn's busiest restaurants and a former front-of-house manager for one of Vermont's premier resorts. As such, we came equipped to help Arvads through its' transformation on many levels including consulting on the menu items. We can't speak volumes enough about the change in the food Arvads Grill now offers including hand-cut steaks, bottomless fries - also hand-cut, a localvore salad, and macaroni and cheese made with local Grafton cheddar that is so flavorful it takes you by surprise! The food has a focus on local producers and so much frozen fare was eliminated that freezers were removed from service as they are no longer needed. Hence, the new tagline "It's Fresh. It's Local. It's Arvads".
Arvads has always been a local favorite for lunch and the new menu maintains many of the popular items, but our favorite may well be the steak sandwich - not a shaved steak Philly like you might expect, but a strip steak sandwich to write home about.
We are very pleased with the outcome of the work we completed for this project and are excited about what the future holds for Arvads Grill. If you haven't stopped by Arvads recetly it will be worth the time. Check out thier menu on the newly revamped Arvads.com website and please let us know what your expereice at the newly revised establishement is like.