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Creative in association withGear Seven
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LA Creative Agency Adopts and Remakes Local Japanese Restaurant

05/05/2021
Consultants
New York, USA
167
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To save its favourite restaurant, Arcana Academy turns takeout joint into an upscale brand and guarantees a year of lunch business

As Covid-19 restrictions prohibiting on-site dining starved small restaurants around Los Angeles, Arcana Academy feared for its favourite lunch spot, a Japanese bistro in Venice, CA whose nondescript name and trappings belied the talents of its master chef Michiyo “Michi” Wilson. So, the award-winning agency’s partners turned talents honed on global brands to a pro bono remake of Fresh-In-The-Box Brown Rice Sushi. In addition, the partners offered to order lunch from the new Michi Japanese Kitchen every day for a year.

“We love the food and have the utmost respect for the kind of community Michi creates. She’s exactly the kind of person you want to see succeed,” said Arcana co-founder Lee Walters. “This closure has been especially hard on many small, family-owned businesses, so, early on, we vowed to do everything we can to help make sure Michi comes out on the other side of this stronger.”

The rebrand includes a new logo, new photography, new menus, new table toppers, new signage, and even a new name, "Michi Japanese Kitchen.” Arcana sought to awaken customers to Michi’s heritage and create the ambiance of a traditional Japanese home, where the environment signals soulful, home-cooked food. That meant a menu with sumptuous photography in rich, dark frames. In addition, Arcana did a food audit and reorganized the menu to emphasize profit drivers and abandon less popular items.

“The rebrand takes the restaurant to another level I didn’t think possible,” said Michi. “We’ve had a renewed energy with existing customers and even new customers. Just last week I had new customers come in that have lived in the neighborhood for over 17 years and just now realized we’re here.“

Michi’s food is central to the agency’s culture. As one of the area businesses that has returned with COVID protocols and in-office testing, Arcana craved a sense of normalcy. “Michi has become the agency comfort food,” said Arcana co-founder Lee Walters. “Getting food we love every day has given everyone a sense of normal none of us had experienced in almost a year.”

Rebranding Michi prompted Arcana to reorganise its own presentation. In place of a long portfolio of varied creative assignments, the team introduced sections to distinguish business consultation, branding and design work from the traditional advertising it’s principally associated with.

“We’re all involved in maintaining community, and one of the greatest ways we can do that is to donate our abilities,” said Arcana co-founder Shane Hutton. “We wanted to give Michi a gift that will generate money, pride and recognition over the long term. A project like this makes the power of advertising personal, endearing and soul rewarding. It’s also a fine showcase of what we do.” 

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