Our longtime San Francisco clients, The Absinthe Group, set out to create a new restaurant concept in the heart of the city. The idea was to bring home style cooking to a neighborhood filled with families, tech workers, and patrons of the arts; building a brand that resonated with people both looking for dinner before the opera or ballet and local resident passerbys. Then the 2020 pandemic hit.
We sat down with the team in February and really dove into the concept. Industry, audience, and local area research was done, complete with a competition set review and neighborhood tours by the design team to get a feel for the microcosm neighborhood. While The Absinthe Group is well known in San Francisco for their cornerstone restaurant Absinthe, the best wine store in the city Arlequin Wine Merchant, and their amazing paella at Bellota – the space had previously been occupied by Arlequin Cafe and was much beloved by it’s diners. We needed to make sure that the new concept complimented the family of brands found next door, still provided a home for the diverse clientele, and gave a face to the new concept found inside the newly renovated interiors with its quaint outdoor garden.
Our teams of strategy, design, and development brainstormed and got busy. With three solid concepts, our in-person presentation would become our last. In April, San Francisco declared a state of emergency. During this time the concept was selected and refined, the brand guidelines approved, and the website was built. While finalizing the beta review in March, San Francisco went into lockdown. For those unfamiliar, the city imposed curfews, imposed a shelter-in-place, and halted public transit for all but essential workers. All restaurants were also closed. Even if they weren’t already open.
We quickly adjusted our strategy to rely on take-out dining. As a team, we needed to be agile and flexible to the needs of the restaurant team as their industry was being decimated. We provided a sounding board for ideas on how to successfully complete this about turn and prioritized requests because we knew that the margins were even tighter and every second counted. And we did it; Arbor opened during the lockdown for take-out. With guidelines, templates, and brand assets available online, they were able to roll out their collateral, packaging, and marketing efforts as they needed them. They’ve immediately won praise for their comfort food. It was exactly what everyone needed.
Brand Visual Identity and Expression
Brand Foundation Building
IA/UI/UX Website Design
Custom Responsive Website Development
Content Management System
WebAwards – Restaurant Standard of Excellence
Davey Award – Branding Identity/Style Guide
Davey Award – Website