Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2019

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 6 1 older, Rotolo's knew it had to mix things up to bring in new, younger guests. "We were either going to age out of the segment and not compete anymore, or we were going to reevaluate the interior and the menu, grow with the seg- ment and really cater to the Millennials along with the generation that grew up with us," Rotolo Sr. says. New Food, New Brand For Rotolo's, a huge part of the solution was upping its food and beverage game. The chain, therefore, has committed itself to craft beer, greatly expanding its tap count. It's also improved its menu, largely through the efforts of the founder's son, Mitchell Rotolo Jr. Having trained in Italy, Rotolo Jr. is a pizza a‚cionado and winner of more than a dozen medals at the World Pizza Championships. Under Rotolo Jr.'s guidance, the chain has introduced new craft menu items, with a focus on pizzas made with hand-stretched dough and higher-end toppings like ‚g spread, arugula and prosciutto. With a craft menu, the chain set out to design a restaurant to match. Finding the right partner for the redesign, says Bourg, was one of the project's ‚rst big challenges. "Mitch [Rotolo Sr.] knew what he wanted," says Bourg. "He knew the feel of what he wanted. We met with a lot of designers until we found someone who could articulate what he wanted and pull that out of him." That designer was Domain Architec- ture out of Baton Rouge. The design team there was led by Interior Design Director Ali DeBosier. In conversations with the Rotolo's team, she saw a connection between the craft nature of Rotolo's new menu and its beginnings, when it was just a guy making pizza and serving craft beer. A tour of the Rotolo's kitchen and ex- planation of the quality of their food, she says, helped cement the design concept. "Mitch said, 'If you can't under- stand what we do, you can't help us create this new environment that says who we are.' To us, it was ‚nding a way to design the space that would re'ect not only their roots and where they came from, but what it is that they truly do," says DeBosier. "It started with one guy making pizzas in an old barroom. We wanted to make that connection between the environment and the product." Rebranding Rotolo's In Rotolo's case, connecting environment and product also meant rebranding. Rotolo's Pizzeria, the company conclud- ed, didn't communicate the quality of the restaurant's food, the breadth of its menu or its commitment to craft beer. Out, then, went Rotolo's Pizzeria, and in came Rotolo's Craft & Crust, the name of all Rotolo's stores going forward. This shift, says Bourg, better rep- resents the revitalized chain's offerings. It also helps avoid confusion when the brand enters new markets. "People thought maybe we were a delivery model, or they were comparing us to Little Caesars or Domino's, and that's not who we are," she says. "It's a higher-end pizza, and we have a full menu. We thought that by taking 'piz- zeria' out of the name and incorporating 'craft and crust,' it opened us up and gave us a little bit better positioning." The Craft and Crust name sits on the outside signage/logo for the restau- rant's prototype location, which opened in Baton Rouge in November 2017. The signage alone gives guests a sense of Rotolo's new look and feel. Gone When possible, Rotolo's exterior will include color-changing LEDs behind translucent panels. Often, though, landlords do not allow this feature.

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