Pumpkin's Kitchen Café

Company

Pumpkin's Kitchen Café is a family-owned and operated soul food restaurant based in Richmond, Virginia.  Along with the restaurant, Pumpkin's Kitchen Café is well known for its catering service.  Pumpkin's Kitchen Café is very focused on making sure each customer's experience is unique.  While dining at Pumpkin's Kitchen Café the owner and her daughter make sure to meet their customer's, they will bring customers a sample of some of their food and they are even willing to make the customer something else if nothing on the menu appeals to them.

The Problem

Pumpkin's Kitchen Café has a loyal customer base, but with being a small new business they wanted to grow their customers.  With Pumpkin's Kitchen Café wanting to grow they told Cody and his group that they wanted to hire an additional employee but in order to do that they needed to increase their weekly business by twenty customers.  They also were looking to expand their marketing since they were primarily known through word of mouth.

The Method

Before Cody and his group could give recommendations on how to increase patrons they had to first see what they were working with.  They visited the establishment, tried out the specialties, talked with the owner and interview restaurant goers.  After their visit, they researched online about local competition and the restaurant industry.  Although they got helpful insight during their restaurant visit they knew that since this was a small local restaurant they would need to revisit the restaurant and conduct more interviews.  They then proceeded to visit the restaurant again and conducted interviews with people in the surrounding area to gauge their thoughts about the restaurant.  The last thing the group did was develop a short survey about the logo and peoples initial thoughts.

The Research

While visiting the establishment they got great information from both the owner and loyal patrons.​

They found that although the restaurant has many specialties people love to go their and order breakfast food no matter what time of the day it is.​

“My favorite item is the pancakes and eggs.”

The establishment is suffering from a lack of awareness.

“I’ve tried Comfort and Tarrant’s nearby, but never heard of Pumpkin’s Kitchen Café.”

Many people know of restaurants in the surrounding area but not about Pumpkin's Kitchen Café.

Cody and his group found that local businesses such as hotels have not been exposed to Pumpkin’s Kitchen Cafés food or menus.​

“I have not reached out to the hotels, but would like to be on there.”

With speaking to the owner they learned that she really cares about her customers and wants to meet them.  She also wants to make sure that everyone can have what they want to eat.  So she is willing to cook something even if it is not on the menu.

Pumpkin’s Kitchen Café struggles due to a lack of clarity for their brand. During the survey, they found that both the name and logo did not properly represent what the restaurant was.

Strategy

Cody and his group's strategy was to update the restaurant's identity and refresh its brand. They wanted to make Pumpkin’s Kitchen Café feel like a second home.​

Rebrand

One thing they discovered during their research was that people found the name and logo to be misleading.  They sent out a survey to people who have never heard of the restaurant and asked them what they thought it served based just off of the logo and name.  Some of the things that they heard people say were that they thought it served coffee and pastries, or that the restaurant had many pumpkin dishes.  There were many different responses but one conclusion that people were unaware of what the restaurant had to offer.

 

So Cody and his group decided that the restaurant should drop the café from its name so that people won't think its a coffee shop.  They also thought that the logo was a little busy and due to pumpkin being in the name and the logo that they should redesign it.  They decided to include a fork and cast iron skillet to help convey that the restaurant serves homestyle, hearty meals.  When designing the logo they wanted to choose a classier font so that people would know that this food and taste was special.

Brand Standards

While redesigning the brand they wanted to set a standard for it.  They decided that the restaurant needs to have a uniform set of colors that they could use to unify all the brand's assets.  They chose four light colors that represented a warm inviting feel.  These new colors would be used for things like the logo, menu writtings and interior design of the restaurant.  They also recommended new font styles for the logo and menu. The fonts they chose helped make the restaurant come across as more welcoming and warm.

Ambience

During their visit to Pumpkin's Kitchen Café, they noticed that it lacked a sort of personality and charm.  Cody and his group knew that they wanted to bring the restaurant alive and feel more like a local, homely place.  One of the first things they decided was that they wanted to fill the dead air with music.  They recommended that the restaurant get a small Bluetooth speaker that they could play music softly over.  Cody's group suggested that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café use Spotify for their music with it having a large library of music and is a free service for them on their tight budget.  However, Cody and his group didn't want them to just play music that is heard on the radio today but instead, they made a playlist that they felt represented the owners personality and the customer base.

The next recommendation that the group had to offer was to include more lighting.  They noticed that when visiting the establishment that is was a bit dark and lacking lights.  Since the restaurant is a little lower than street level and connected to other buildings it didn't have many windows.  With that being the case Cody and his group wanted the establishment to add additional wall mounted lights white soft light bulbs.  What they were hoping to achieve with this recommendation is to help brighten the place up and make it feel warmer.

 

The last thing they recommended to help improve the ambience was to have more decorations.  They speciaclly recommended that the resturant have photos of the owner and her family, photos of the community and area it is in and to have a chalkboard.  Having photos would make the resturant feel more homely and represntative of the type of place it is.  The photos of the area would also represnt of how the restuarnt is a local establishment and loves the community.  A chalkboard was recommended because the owner could have things like her logo drawn on it or it could have welcoming and inspiring messages on it.  It would also be used to write the days specials on it.

Restaurant Design

To go along with the ambience of the restaurant Cody and his group wanted to change the layout of the restaurant.  The first recommendation they made was for Pumpkin's Kitchen Café to remove their bar.  The reason why they recommended this was because the restaurant had not yet secured its liquor license and the bar was not halfway completed.  What they wanted to do with this space was to add additional seating.  They also wanted to rearrange some of the tables to offer more room for an additional table that was not being used.  With doing this the establishment would increase their seating by five, from twenty-seven to thirty-two seats.  The next change they wanted to make was to remove the televisions from the walls as they were not being used.  Instead, they would paint the walls the brand's colors to help brighten the space and stay consistent with the brand.  The last recommendation they had was to improve the restaurant's signage.  On the outside of the restaurant, they would replace the current sign with a new one showing the new logo and brighter colors to help it stand out.  The restaurant also had standing signs outside and they wanted to place them right on the curb for everyone to see.  On the signs, they would include things like the day's specials and the new menu.

Menu

With Cody and group having updated the interior of the restaurant they also wanted to update the menu as well.  When designing the new menu they wanted to go with a more classic design that aligned with the new brand changes.  In order to help them achieve this feel, they chose to use the light colors from their brand standards as they felt that it made the menu easier to read while offering a calming aesthetic.  While looking over Pumpkin's Kitchen Cafés menu they noticed that it lacked food descriptions.  Cody and his group decided that they were going to rename some of the food choices and offer descriptions for menu items that needed it in order to better describe what the customer would receive.  Since the owner wants to make people happy and will cook things not listed on the menu, Cody and his group decided to include that on the back at the bottom.  The last thing they decided to change about the menus was print it on thick card stock.  With having it on a thicker card stock the restaurant would no longer need to keep their menus in a plastic sleeve.  The card stock would also feel more elegant helping the restaurant feel more like an upscale dining establishment.

Social Media

As technology is growing in use, many companies are turning to social media to help them promote their business.  With that in mind, Cody and his group realized that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café was not active on social media and taking advantage of it.  They knew that this was vital if they wanted to grow the restaurant's awareness.  What the group recommended the owner do was to post updates daily on Facebook and Instagram with information such as the day's specials, events that were going on in the restaurant and behind the scenes of the cooking. They wanted to take advantage of the restaurant's social media to build a stronger presence and get the community involved by encouraging them to leave reviews and start discussions.  Since the owner did not have time to actively engage with those platforms everyday Cody and his group recommend that they use Buffer to manage the social media posts.  With that application, the owner could set up to ten posts and choose the time and day they get posted. Buffer would also allow the user to upload pictures on it so the owner could show off their food in posts as well.  All the owner would have to do is set up the posts and schedule the publishing date and time and Buffer would do the rest.  With the owner being on a limited budget she could not afford to pay for a service.  They chose Buffer for her because it was free, can be used on both a phone and a computer and it could track posts and lets the poster know how much people are engaging with a specific post.

While looking at Pumpkin's Kitchen Café online presence Cody and his group also found that the restaurant did not have a strong draw on sites like GrubHub and Yelp.  They knew they had to change that as those sites are where people go to get food and read reviews on restaurants. What they recommended was that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café include more photos and descriptions of their food on these sites.  The restaurant would also offer their customers a free small side dish if they posted a review online. With increasing their user reviews on these sites it would result in more people learning about Pumpkin's Kitchen Café and going to try their food.

Website

While conducting their research Condy and his group explored Pumpkin's Kitchen Cafés website.  Upon further review, however, they found it to be simple and not very engaging. What they decided to do was to create a new website that would display the information in an easy to read format, while still being visually appealing.  On the new website, it would have icons at the top with a description under them for easy navigation.  On the main page, it would have the most important information.  They first wanted to add a short description of what type of restaurant it was and have the days specials and map at the top.  If people still were not sure about the food that was offered they also included an easy to read menu for people to see what Pumpkin's Kitchen Café had to offer.  One big addition they included was a form for catering.  They wanted to include this because catering brought in a large amount of money to the restaurant, however, on the website that they were currently using it did not mention their catering service.  Finally, Cody and his group wanted to make sure that they included reviews from customers since they knew that many people today rely on reviews for anything they purchase.

Local Area Outreach

Cody and his group knew that one of the reseasons why more people were not visiting the establishment is because of its lack of awareness among the community.  They wanted Pumpkin's Kitchen Café to go out in the community and promote the restaurant.  What Cody and his group recommended was that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café go around to local businesses, hotels, VCU Medical Center and the Greater Richmond Conventional Center and promote their business.  When visiting these locations Pumpkin's Kitchen Café would bring samples of their food and menus with catering information on it to leave behind.  The reason they would do this is that the community would get to try their food and learn about Pumpkin's Kitchen Café, so next time the people go out to lunch they would think about Pumpkin's Kitchen Café.

 

The group next recommended that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café run specials for the community.  Cody and his group proposed that every Friday between 11:30 to 2:30 the restaurant gives a 20% discount to the working class in the community.  All the guests would have to do is show their badge and they would get the discount on their total bill.  

 

With food being an important part of many holidays Cody's group wanted to take advantage of that.  What the group recommended was thatPumpkin's Kitchen Café offer food packages for the holidays.  The group specifically recommended that the restaurant offer a Friendsgiving package.  Through this package, customers would be able to choose from a variety of different food options that they wanted for the holiday.  Although each of these packages would be personalized for each individual Pumpkin's Kitchen Café would only offer food choices that they already make and a few holiday dishes such as a turkey.  However, if a customer is looking for a specific item like stuffing that is not listed they could make a specific request and the owner would determine if the request can be met.  These packages would be paid and ordered at least one week in advance.  The restaurant would also limit the request to a certain number as to ensure that they can meet all orders.  Cody and his group felt that by offering a service like this it would entice more people in the community to order from Pumpkin's Kitchen Café so that the customer does not have to worry about cooking.  It would also benefit students as many of them enjoy having these events with their friends for the holiday and this option would provide everything they would need.

Personalized Cards

Cody and his group wanted the restaurant's personality to shine through to everyone even if they ordered the food through GrubHub.  What they proposed that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café do was that they provide all of their patrons with thank you cards.  These cards would thank the customer for dining with them and invite them to come back.  By offering these cards it would provide customers with a positive final impression and make them feel happy because the restaurant offered a personal touch that offers do not.  As Pumpkin's Kitchen Café wants to feel like a home and make their customers happy they don't want to neglect those who order online.  They would offer these thank you cards to both people who ate at the restaurant and people who ordered the food online.

Future Opportunities

Although Cody and his group offered the restaurant with a variety of different solutions for how they can grow their customer base these solutions were short term.  The group wanted to make sure that they also offered possible solutions for the future as well to help the restaurant stay sustainable.  The first recommendation that they made was that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café look at taking part in the Broad Appetit Food Festival.  The Broad Appetit Food Festival is a festival for locally owned restaurants to market at and the festival has been around for over twelve years with more than 40,000 attendees.  This would be a great opportunity for Pumpkin's Kitchen Café to look into it would help them get their brand out in the community and allow people to try their food.

 

Cody's group next recommended that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café offer season options.  To go along with the holiday packaging idea that the group recommended they also thought that the restaurant should have food to go along with the time of year.  They felt that the restaurant should have looked into this because as the season change so do the food trends such as pumpkin spice flavors.  Seasonal flavors are a very popular trend helping companies increase food sales and Cody's group wanted Pumpkin's Kitchen Café to capitalize on that trend.

 

Cody and his group suggested that once the restaurant solidifies the new brand image that they reach out to local Richmond magazines to get some PR.  Through reaching out to local publications they could increase their awareness and work to get a story published about them. They also recommended that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café turn to social media like LinkedIn and reach out to Richmond writers to see if they could write a piece about the restaurant.

Summary

Although Pumpkin's Kitchen Café has a loyal customer base they were looked to see how they could increase that number by an additional twenty customers a week.  They tasked Cody and his group with finding a way for the restaurant to grow their customers and increase their marketing efforts.  The group started by finding out what people think of the restaurant and they found that it portrayed a warm and welcoming feeling but also that the branding was confusing.  Cody and his group knew that before they could market the business they first needed to clarify the brand.  They started by first recommending that the brand get a redesign both on the inside of the restaurant and on all the marketing materials.  After the brand image was clear they suggested that Pumpkin's Kitchen Café turn to social media as it is a very popular platform for business to market on.  They finally suggested that the restaurant reach out to the community and make their business known among locals.  Through Pumpkin's Kitchen Cafés marketing they wanted to make sure that they portrayed the image of the restaurant being like a second home.​​

Cody's Team

Cody's team consisted of six people with many different creative abilities.  The first person on Cody's team was Christopher Suarez specializing in brand strategy.  The next team member was Brianne Johnson also specializing in brand strategy.  Then there was Jeremy Stokes who was the group's experience design specialist.  The group's copywriter was Kelley Barrett.  Finally, there was Jenna Anderson the art director of the group.

© 2018 Cody Colvin

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