Restaurant Retail Design: Merchandising and Retail Space

Whether it’s T-shirts, coffee mugs or bottles of house dressing, restaurant retail design should be reflective of the overall brand. Guests often purchase restaurant retail products as a memento of their dining experience to remind them of their visit once they’ve gone home.

Retail designs must have a strong brand personality that guests can relate to. The more guests can relate to that brand personality, the more they will want to align themselves with it.

When patrons purchase retail products with your restaurant’s name and logo, they instantly become ambassadors for your restaurant concept.

Restaurant Retail Design: Merchandise

One of the most successful restaurant retail designs is the Hard Rock Café T-shirt. A simple and recognizable design incorporates a city name underneath the restaurant logo, varying only slightly from location to location.

This design makes the T-shirt an instant collector’s item, encouraging guests to buy one in every major city they visit. The T-shirts give thousands of guests bragging rights for traveling to various destinations, while simultaneously creating brand ambassadors for Hard Rock Café all around the world.

The Hard Rock Café T-shirt communicates the message that the person wearing the shirt is a jet-setter. Your restaurant retail design should also provide an image that guests can identify with.

Señor Frog’s, Grupo Anderson’s flagship brand, has an entertaining retail line that is reflective of the experience guests have come to expect at the restaurant. Their retail line includes more than 400 branded retail designs, including clothing, underwear, picture frames, pens, key chains and beer cozies.

One keychain is a glass-encased Tylenol capsule which reads, In case of hangover, break glass.  Other items include bikini-clad beer cozies, frog-faced visors and T-shirts with cheeky phrases like “Do not feed frogs tequila.”

Restaurant Retail Design: Food Products

In addition to merchandise, many restaurants also opt to retail signature food products. Hot sauces, barbeque sauces, spaghetti sauces and salad dressings are usually good sellers because they are easy to package and have a long shelf life.

These types of retail products help enforce your brand by allowing guests to incorporate the sauces and dressings into their home cooking. Retailing food products is a great way to introduce a restaurant brand to new consumers who live in other locations.

Food products can easily be sold within your restaurant and in local grocery stores, which will generate additional revenue while increasing exposure for your restaurant.

Let’s Eat! is a meal assembly business equipped with food preparation stations that contain all the ingredients, utensils and accessories customers need to prepare a month’s worth of meals in two hours or less.

In addition, Let’s Eat! customers can also purchase bottled dips, sauces and spreads that carry the Let’s Eat! logo. These ready-to-go sauces further emphasize the Let’s Eat! philosophy of simplifying meals. Packaging design supports this brand image by incorporating a logo and color scheme that is consistent with the rest of the Let’s Eat! creative platform.

If you sell signature food products from your restaurant, the retail design for packaging and labeling must be cohesive with the rest of your creative platform. That way, consumers will be reminded of your restaurant each time they use the product.

Restaurant Retail Design: Retail Space

Restaurant retail products should be displayed near your lobby or cash register for easy purchase. Some concepts, such as Cracker Barrel and Señor Frog’s, build retail spaces within their restaurants.

In 2004, Señor Frog’s opened its first U.S. location in Myrtle Beach. The new restaurant includes a large, beach-themed retail space consistent with the restaurant’s interior design. The space is outfitted with a real wooden boardwalk, bamboo ceilings, wood shutters and coconut lights. Blue tiling creates the look of water and sand on the floor.
A giant beer can, lily pad and crate bins are used as display tables within the retail space.

A restaurant retail space should do more than house your restaurant’s merchandise; it should enhance your entire brand through a retail design that is cohesive with the rest of your restaurant’s design scheme.

When developing a retail line for your own restaurant, choose items that will be sought-after by your guests, and that will integrate a retail design reflective of your brand.

Consider working with a restaurant consulting firm that employs professional designers and merchandise specialists who know new product trends and create designs with the end customer in mind.

Well-branded restaurant retail products will serve as a constant reminder of your concept in the form of a nifty keepsake.

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