Creating one of the hottest restaurant launches in 2017
CHIK’N was the new fast casual offshoot of the popular Chick ‘n’ Sours restaurants, serving free range fried chicken and sides with exciting global flavours. The launch week of a restaurant is crucial to its success and position in the market- screw it up and it takes a long time to recover. Come out the gate running and it makes life a lot easier during the challenging early months of a new restaurant by firmly positioning who you are in people’s minds when they talk about you. We needed to generate as much exposure and buzz in the lead up to the launch and then transform that initial buzz into loyal customers- all in the space of 2 months!
There is a lot of detail here but there is a lot that goes into creating a perfect restaurant launch!
Strongly defined brand
As the restaurant had a strong heritage from an existing brand with a lot of personality (Chick ‘n’ Sours) we wanted to create something with a strong personality. Bold, edgy and fun, matching the food and backed up by content standing out from all the boring and identical food shots out there.
We used bold colours and typography and created a range of characters to bring the brand to life. This allowed all our marketing to pop off the feed and grab your attention.
For us each piece of content has to
One of our key skills (and something others do badly) is going deep into finding out the story and breaking it down into all the various elements and made sure every piece of content reflects a part of this. This includes random and fun stuff that entertain and show personality. So we mapped it all out and always planned in advance to make sure every part of the story was being covered.
We took the copywriting seriously, educating our customers about why the food was so good but making sure it was done in a lighthearted way.
We used a mix of:
This creates an exciting online presence and moves us beyond just simple shots of food.
To create as much noise as possible you need a hook to get people talking. So we offered free fried chicken for a year to the first 50 customers and 50% off all food for the opening week. With an offer that strong people would be more inclined to start sharing this and influencers and press would also have something headline worthy to talk about.
We were lucky that we had good relationships with key influencers and press already who all rated Chick ‘n’ Sours as one of the best fried chicken restaurants in London. However we still had to work hard making sure that we were on people’s radar and invited some key influencers to giveaway free fried chicken for a year on their own feeds doing competition and hiding cards on treasure hunts.
Our primary channel to get the results we wanted in a short space of time was Instagram, where we managed to get up to 3000 followers by launch using a variety of growth techniques (now 13,000). By creating a narrative over the launch period, people were chomping at the bit to try us by the time we launched.
We also used paid advertising on both Facebook and Instagram to make sure we could reach as many relevant local people as possible.
From using the Facebook ads and other channels to promote our signing up for 50% off opening week we were able to get 5000 people to join our email list so we could keep in contact with them beyond launch. Even now our open rates are still at 40% (industry standard 20%)
Local marketing is hard work but winning over your local community and building relationships in person is one of the key and yet overlooked parts of a restaurant launch. We researched all the key local businesses and community members (such as police, hospitals, mother’s groups etc) and met with them wherever we could – giving them food to sample and telling them about our mission.
It may not be a classic marketing technique but everyone in this project hustled to make it happen. No matter how much you plan, a restaurant launch is hard work and out attitude (and everyone else involved) was that we would throw as much energy into this as humanly possible, hustling for every single customer whether it was engaging with people on Instagram or getting people in local offices to hand over their phones and sign up to our newsletter. This attitude was key in being able to achieve everything we did in such a short space of time.
From the minute we opened with a line of 200 people waiting outside the restaurant, it didn’t stop for a second over that launch week. 2000 customers a day were being served (bearing in mind this is a small chicken shop on Baker Street) and we were all over the press and social media. With all the attention received we were firmly on the London restaurant map and made it onto many top restaurant lists such as the Timeout Top 100 cheap eats and winning awards such as the Foodism best casual restaurant in a short space of time.
Carl Clarke – Founder/chef (Evening Standard ‘maverick chef of the year’), CHIK’N & Chick ‘n’ Sours