12.052012

brand experience brief: fresh 2 order

(Here’s the latest in my series of insights and analysis on new and interesting restaurant and retail concepts, Brand Experience Briefs.)

Fresh 2 Order is a fast casual restaurant concept that seems to have a good thing going but lacks design excellence and coherence*.  Check out this video audit:

Brand Experience Brief: Fresh 2 Order (by Denise Lee Yohn) from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

*Pierre Panos, the Founder and CEO of QS America which includes Fresh 2 Order, recently informed me that it is opening a new location in Emory on 12.15.12 which addresses many of the issues I report on.  So, all you local Atlanta folks, please do us a favor — go check it out and let us know what you think — thanks!

other brand experience briefs:

transcript:

Design matters — that’s the main takeaway from todayís brand experience brief.  I’ll be introducing you to Fresh 2 Order, a fast casual concept that seems to have a good thing going but lacks design excellence and coherence.

First, the facts.  Fresh 2 Order, or F2O as it seems to want to be called, promotes itself as ìA pioneer in ìfast-fineî dining. Combining incredible food, service and facilities that bring food to your table in under 10 minutes for around $10. Founded in 2006 there are five Fresh 2 Orders operating in Atlanta and one in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I visited the midtown Atlanta location one night and was attracted by the nice patio and lights.  Inside the location, most of the dÈcor was cool and modern and included nice touches like these beverage decanters. Thereís a big open kitchen in the back and the flaming grill provided some real food theatre.

The menu is quite extensive ñ featuring Panini sandwiches, entrees, kids meals, salads, sides, plus grilled pizzas, appetizers, and dessert ñ which is not necessarily a good thing because too much choice can be overwhelming, but I appreciated the creativity of menu items including a blue cheese fig salad and an asian chicken crunch Panini which I ordered and enjoyed.

The service was friendly and they definitely met their speed of service promise of less than 10 minutes and at $7.59 for a Ω sandwich and Ω salad, the value was there too.

So Fresh 2 Order certainly met the basics but the entire experience didnít come together.  You see, although the facilities were designed to be upscale, remember the phrase ìfast-fine dining,î the order queuing area has retail shelving where you can buy a protein bar and there are these big branded barrels from which you can grab a soda ñ both of these features may be convenient but makes it feel a little like youíre in a convenience store.

The menus were laminated plastic sheets which featured a visual approach that seemed more Dennyís than dining.  Most of the collateral, including their VIP club enrollment card, counter cards, and table stands also looked and felt cheap ñ not to mention the graphics on the packaging, the plastic bag packaging itself, and the sucker that came stuck in my sandwich.  These were certainly not fine food cues.

On the web, the disconnects in the conceptís visual style are really apparent. And finally Fresh 2 Order seems to have 2 logos that are really different from each other and neither communicates fresh, fine, or fast.  Design is a language through which companies communicate their ethos and personality ñ right now, all Fresh 2 Order is communicating is confusion.

According to QSR Magazine, there are plans to open at least 25 new restaurants in the Carolinas over the next four years.  The company needs to sort out these disconnects in order to build a brand that can support these growth aspirations.

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