Question: When is a Restaurant Brand more than a Restaurant Brand?
Answer: When it turns into Gastrontainment. A few weeks ago I enjoyed a brilliant brand experience at the recently opened St. Katherines restaurant in Kew. St Katherines is the latest restaurant (that makes five so-far) to be opened by celebrity chef and much loved local food figure George Calombaris. When you already have four hugely respected, booked-out-for months restaurants – what do you do to make the latest addition to the portfolio stand-out? The answer is ‘theater’.
The evening was a social event for EO Melbourne, the local chapter of the Global Entrepreneurs Organization, for which I’m the new Melbourne President. We started with drinks in the private bar upstairs, before moving into the private dining space where 90 guests were comfortably seated. The evening was hosted by George himself, who interacted with the guests by running a blind tasting activity and holding court in his charismatic and natural manner. As we enjoyed tasting plates for entree, the room buzzed from the experience – a reminder of the value of leveraging a brands founder to create up-close and personal experiences. But the highlight was about to be served-up. A huge sliding door in the restaurant wall opened to reveal a kitchen, complete with assistant chefs and a TV camera. Screens dropped from the ceiling allowing each and every guest a close-up view of George as he hand-made a dish of goats cheese ravioli and lamb cheek in a rich butter sauce. As he cooked George answered questions from the crowd, providing all manner of insights into his restaurant empire and TV show (Master Chef). As the evening progressed we had another Q&A session with George focusing on his entrepreneurial journey, cook book signings and gifts of George’s new branded olive oil for the guests.
As the guests lingered into the early hours, still abuzz from the evening we reflected on the power of personal brand to create a unique restaurant experience that will only grow the reputation of St Katherines and spread the all important word of mouth.