Bethesda, MD (PressExposure) February 17, 2009 -- The Heiserman Group principal Herb Heiserman doesn't think it's coincidence that not one, but two of his clients were among the five 2008 'Hot Concepts!' awarded by Nation's Restaurant News.
Both Vapiano, a European chain of Italian restaurants that recently opened four successful locations in D.C. and Northern Virginia and Seattle-based Organic to Go, the first fast casual cafe chain in the U.S. certified as an organic retailer, made the list. Introduced by Nation's Restaurant News in 1994, the coveted title is awarded to concepts that exude exemplary innovation, rapid emergence into the marketplace and widespread consumer appeal.
Heiserman credits part of the restaurants' success to the consistency his firm brings to their brands at the retail store level. "They're winning the 'Hot Concepts!' awards because they have strong products, but also in part because their brands are strongly identifiable, which is directly attributable to the work The Heiserman Group does."
Heiserman explains, "When you walk into a Starbucks, with its dark woods, chalkboard menus and signature green throughout, you don't even need the seal of the woman with flowing hair to know you're in a Starbucks. No matter what city or state you're in, Starbucks does a great job providing a consistent retail experience from store to store. This is what The Heiserman Group offers its clients - consistent brand design that can be replicated quickly, cost-effectively and successfully."
When designing six D.C. locations for Organic to Go, The Heiserman Group's Branded Concepts studio faced the challenge of translating a West Coast brand with no consistent thematic design into one that reflected the brand's core commitment to the environment and that could be easily reproduced anywhere around the country. Within a few short weeks, The Heiserman Group provided a design for five new stores featuring eco-friendly materials such as bamboo finishes, natural stone floorings and low VOC paints.
At only five years old, Vapiano is preparing to triple in size with plans to open more than 80 new restaurants in North America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the next four to eight years. The five locations designed by The Heiserman Group were the first in the North America, so the design team faced the added challenge of adapting an international brand for a U.S. market. The resulting design reflects the chain's German heritage with a clean, precise design and upscale touches throughout.
"In a way, the 'Hot Concepts!' awards really validate the work we've done for these clients. They show that we were able to successfully translate these brands at the retail level and support the rapid growth associated with a successful chain," says Heiserman.
And with a third of the top five restaurants currently in negotiations with The Heiserman Group for design work as of press time, it perhaps proves that while the food may get top billing, a sexy look certainly doesn't hurt in the world of hot new restaurants.