Two Balkan restaurants, two brilliant branding projects
logo + branding
new website build
The best barista in Sydney's CBD made my coffee for nearly a decade
I was lucky! But when they moved their business down to the other side of town, people were devastated.
I later bumped into said barista Dave in the street, who gleefully told me of his upcoming plan of opening not one BUT TWO new cafe style restaurants in inner Sydney. However he had a problem...he needed a designer to work out the branding really quickly...WELL HELLO!
So we got to work. We sat down and went through their offering, their customer profiles, their tone and feel, and the unique point of difference their Balkan theme offered and started drawing. There were two restaurants, in two locations telling slightly different stories - but offering the same menu based on recipes passed down through generations of Dave's Macedonian family. We identified three main points of difference these two restaurants shared:
Restaurant one: The Balkan Butler
The Balkan Butler is located in the Surry Hills area of inner Sydney – chock full of young aspirational creatives, students and professionals spilling out of reflective bars and eating establishments. Dave had a font in style mind that would reflect the Cyrillic alphabet, we just had to refine it for legibility. We then slapped that on everything from signage, menus, and coffee cups, to a range of merchandise including tees, caps, and keep cups.
This restaurant was a celebration of everything great about Balkan hospitality and the place that is the Balkans!
We developed a finely tuned social strategy prior to opening, focusing on Instagram and rolling out to Facebook, and we easily hit our engagement targets in the first eight weeks of business. While our main subject will always be the food offerings, we’ve incorporated cultural content into our feed, to hone in on what the business is really all about: everything wonderfully Balkan!
Restaurant two: Billy Blargo
Billy was a bit different to the Butler - the guys at the Nedelko Group wanted it to celebrate the story of the Balkan people who came out in the 1960's & 70's and now call Australia home. AND it was located in the middle of the CBD - catering for the city crowd.
After sitting down and talking about the story of Billy and looking through countless photos of swinging times in the seventies in Sydney, I knew the branding had to have a retro vibe..and with the Balkans situated on the eastern side of Europe, I felt we had to reflect this in the font choice. When I presented my vision for Billy Blargo to the crew, they were right onto it. This then followed through with some of the interiors, and I found myself adding titles such as "wallpaper designer" to my cap - a very fun project to be a team member on!
Although this restaurant was the little brother to The Balkan Butler, its culture was different - it was celebrating the people who came here, not the place from where they came..
With this in mind, we set about creating an atmosphere of energetic celebration. We crafted a social strategy focused on the food, with mouthwatering "moody" photography that had us drooling all over our strategy documents! And rolled out collateral including the usual menus, coffee loyalty cards and signage along with marketing campaigns within the building's digital screens and online portal platform.
While our design journey was a raging success, COVID took it's toll on the Nedelko crew
With the shut down to the Sydney CBD, Billy Blargo just couldn't remain open, but The Balkan Butler is still operating a very busy Balkan feasting hotspot! Despite those tough years, our collaboration was a wonderful journey that resulted in some excellent design work and a lifelong connection of friendship between the Nedelko guys and myself. Given this was one of the main impacts we defined for our customers, we consider our collaboration a huge success!