Restaurant Development & Design

January-February 2017

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 A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 • 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 • 5 1 a new location in the Houston suburb of Katy — the first Cowboy Chicken store featuring its new graphic identity and prototype design will allow the company to compete on a national level. Building a Brand The company began its brand refinement by hiring Kim Jensen-Pitts, founder of KJP Marketing Services, to guide the process. Developing a new look and feel wasn't part of the initial plans. "We started by doing what I call a two-day brand summit," says Jensen- Pitts. "We get all the key players, the executives and some of the managers together, and we do a brand exercise trying to get at the history and culture [of the chain]." The summit's goal was to establish Cowboy Chicken's "brand architecture" — essential aspects of the company, including its culture, mission and core values. It also focused on refining the chain's key brand attributes, the cus- tomer-facing qualities, such as the food, hospitality strategy and atmosphere. After two days of work and discus- sion, the concept set its brand archi- tecture, which is structured around the quality of the food and the promise of "flavor born over an open flame," thus emphasizing one of Cowboy Chicken's key differentiators. The chain also recommitted to its honest, authentic attitude while shifting the aesthetic from "cowboy kitsch" to "cowboy cool." After establishing the brand archi- tecture, the company polled its custom- ers to see how well it matched these aspirations. Through email, Cowboy Chicken sought the opinion of 3,000 established customers, who were offered an incentive to reply. "The customers came back with a resounding 'Food's great. Service is great. Interior design lacks a little. You guys could do better,'" says Kennedy. "We listened, and in our march to be- come a national brand, we felt a need to improve our interior design." In truth, this need to improve the interior wasn't a huge surprise to Ken- nedy or Jensen-Pitts. The chain's dine-in business had declined over the years, according to Jensen-Pitts. While some of that was certainly due to changes in life- styles, the look of older Cowboy Chicken stores also played a role, she says. The previous design had more or less evolved over time and lacked some unity. It also didn't quite match the high quality of the food served. "The concept is firmly within the fast-casual segment," says Jensen-Pitts. "Really, it should be more positioned in polished fast casual. They have a superior product with very artisan tech- niques, yet the atmosphere felt very QSR Project Snapshot Headquarters: Dallas Franchise owner: Sean Kennedy Concept: Wood-fired rotisserie chicken Segment: Fast casual Average check: $17.35 Locations: Texas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Alabama Units: 21 Opened: First store in 1981; new design in May 2016 Size: 2,500-2,800 square feet Real estate: Retail endcap, inline Design highlights: New interior design elements are an eclectic collection of brand-relevant illustrations, photo- graphs, and 3-D artwork reproduced on materials like metal, wood, rope, canvas and aged paper that create a welcoming, warm and rustic brand experience. The new concept brings the new authentic "cowboy cool" brand strategy to life, along with a contemporary, stylish new logo that communicates the modern appeal of the brand's flavorful, fresh and healthy menu offerings. Build-out time: 13 weeks Project lead: Chris Mastin, director of franchise operations, Cowboy Chicken Architect: Greg Landry, Landry Archi- tects, Richardson, Texas Kitchen supplier: Best Restaurant Equipment and Design, Columbus, Ohio Interior design: Propaganda, Inc. The chain moved away from tests of digital menu boards to static displays that reinforce the brand.

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