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The next may be the sixth in the series "Live Your Brand" where branding expert Melanie Spring takes us along on her behalf three-week road trip in the united states to meet up innovative entrepreneurs whose experiences offer lessons learned to businesses big and small.
Madison, Wisc., a sizeable city in the Midwest, can seem quiet and unassuming to the common outsider. A peaceful, family-focused city, Madison may be the capitol to circumstances with an increase of than 76,000 farms. Because of the amount of rolling pastures, it’s also the house of the farm-to-table movement, pioneered by Odessa Piper, the initial owner of the city’s fine-dining restaurant, L’Etoile, now, continued by people like chef Tory Miller.
In the state of Wisconsin, Piper is called the First Lady of Cuisine, a name deserved and needed. Seeking to create an unmatched restaurant experience, Piper opened L’Etoile in 1976, a restaurant with only high-quality, locally sourced foods. In the land of cheese curds, fried food and beer this idea took the original in a complete new direction. And for Piper it worked, as L’Etoile has earned accolades through the entire years.
In 2002, Miller, a chef Piper considered probably the most important young chefs in the country, began working at L’Etoile. In 2005, he, together with his sister Traci, purchased the restaurant from Piper to keep in her high-quality footsteps.
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Today, the restaurant remains among the top fine-dining restaurants in Wisconsin but also for Miller, this wasn’t enough. He wished to find a way to talk about the new cuisine with a bigger audience. So this year 2010, Graze was opened in Madison supplying a more casual dining experience but nonetheless maintaining the high standard L’Etoile had set.
Both restaurants continue steadily to gain attention for his or her sustainable, local branding efforts by receiving recognition in publications like Gourmet magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and Saveur’s “Top 100."
Here’s what you can study from Miller and Piper about how exactly to create your brand stick out:
Food at Graze restaurant
Image credit: Melanie Spring
1. Understand your audience and dare to vary. The Midwest isn’t known to be foodie heaven. Graze knew it needed to be different. Searching on the capitol building, Graze gets the air of a hip city restaurant with the huge hearts of the Midwesterners bustling around to bring delicious food to every table.
The people in the Madison area – some local and others transplants attending University of Madison — are engaged and thinking about what they’re eating. With an eclectic menu, you’ll find two several types of people at Graze: Those that love local beer, cheese curds and burgers and the ones adventurous foodies who benefit from the charcuterie and unusual, traditional Korean dishes, like pork belly.
2. Adhere to your mission. With up to 170 different Wisconsin farmers on the menu, Graze is careful to work only with farms practicing sustainability. Though they’re careful about who they use, they don’t really limit their farms to certified organic. Might seem a little backwards, but also for Graze, it seems sensible. The farmer’s sustainable practices, for example, permit them to get goat cheese from a female who loves her goats and takes proper care of these but is ready to give antibiotics if they’re sick.
Graze showcases all their farmers on an enormous wall in the restaurant. Each month a fresh story and picture are on the board — another draw for customers.
“It might seem writing the story will be the hard part, but it isn’t easy to get pictures of farmers. They’re a proud bunch,” explains assistant manager Courtney Stacy.
Graze’s local roots don’t visit the meals. The restaurant won’t use big name wholesale companies, opting instead to aid local companies by purchasing linens and kitchen supplies from their website – a practice that’s more costly but fits Graze’s mission statement.
They’re even focusing on changing just how younger generations start to see the world through community outreach, with one initiative having Miller visit schools and teach children how exactly to cook with fresh ingredients.
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3. Set your employees up for success. Graze holds its entire staff to a higher standard. Throughout their extensive training, employees get quizzed on from the mission to the farmers and the expected exceptional customer support. Those that don’t fit well end up weeding themselves out quickly. The effect can be an impeccable experience for customers.
"Hire people you can trust and trust them,” says Stacy.
For those that produce the cut, every person in their employees knows where every item on the menu originates from and management wants employees to be engaged. For instance, "That’s John and Dorothy, and we buy our beef from their farm," could be overheard, as employees indicate the pictu