When Chef David Bull opened his signature restaurants, CONGRESS, SECOND BAR + KITCHEN and BAR CONGRESS, he approached our team for the branding, marketing and PR assignment.
At the time, Chef Bull had been away from Austin for two years working on projects in Dallas. He was remembered in Austin from his time at the Driskill Grill as the city’s "first celebrity chef," and his return to Austin was widely anticipated. We used this anticipation to our advantage by starting a word of mouth campaign a full year ahead of the restaurant's opening. Six months ahead of the opening we started contacting national media, and five months in advance, we planned a sneak preview tasting event for bloggers and tastemakers. Next we designed a creative window wrap for the construction site of the restaurant, located at the high profile intersection of Congress Avenue and Second Street, which served as both a promotional and functional construction piece. Throughout the construction process we led casual "dusty shoe" tours of the restaurants with select media and opinion leaders.
Simultaneously we also created a visual identity for the three entities. The identity needed to reflect that the spaces were a family, but also needed to convey that each had its own experience. Once the logos were created, we designed the paper system for all three restaurants, which included paper menus and hard cover menus. In addition, we created the outdoor signage, digital invitations for preview events, the website and e-newsletter templates. After the restaurants opened, we created event signage and event takeaways, and designed their tablescapes and decor for events.
Once Chef Bull was ready to announce his all-star team, we provided an exclusive to the Austin American–Statesman in order to secure a prominent story. At that point we also began a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. One month prior to opening we developed the invitation list and email invitation for rehearsal meals and soft opening. Everything we did deliberately built to a grand opening crescendo on New Year’s Eve of 2011. Our first year after opening was dedicated to ensuring the restaurant would appear on every local, state and national best list we could find.
Our campaign led to enormous buzz and wide acclaim, including the restaurant being named by Esquire as a "Best New Restaurant" and "Best New Bar in America," being name a "Best New Restaurant in America" by Bon Appétit, and "Best New Restaurant in Texas" by Texas Monthly.