Crabby Joe’s Bar & Grill is a Canadian-owned restaurant company managed by Obsidian Group Inc., with over 30 locations in Ontario. Crabby Joe’s is a sports bar/restaurant serving pub-style fare to their customers in a friendly atmosphere.
The challenge for Crabby Joe’s was to elevate the perception of their food offering through a better menu, in an effort to create more guest frequency by inspiring them to try something new and to return more often because they have a reason to visit. Their existing menu lacked appetite appeal; the food photography wasn’t well styled or effectively lit, nor did it show the food in settings where the customer could connect to it. It was our task to revitalize the menu presentation, and therefore the food offering.
Despite not having been retained to work on their logo, our process identified that the Crabby Joe icon created some brand issues. The customer can warm up to the idea of Crabby Joe, but his brooding visage didn’t help to create the fun environment they were striving for. We recommended removing the caricature of Crabby Joe from the logo, but retaining the character by injecting his voice throughout the menu and the physical space. Removing the Crabby Joe caricature from the logo allowed us to make the signage larger, and simplified the logo considerably, making reproduction on various applications much easier for them.
On the menus, we instantly recognized that their existing café-style menu was too generic; the plastic sleeves feel cheap in the guest’s hands, and lacks polish. Also, there was no flexibility, as it was impossible to add or remove pages from it. Overall, the menu carrier did nothing to help Crabby Joe’s stand out from their competition.
The new Crabby Joe’s menu is a big step forward for the brand. It is uniquely sized to instantly create distinction in the eyes of the guest, and the cover does more than feature the logo or simply say “We have food” – it begins to tell the brand story. Inside, it has space for LTOs on both the front and back inside covers, increasing opportunities for promotion and encouraging visit frequency. The pages inside are hospitality grade paper that is tear and moisture resistant, wipeable, and easy to change out when required by price fluctuations or other menu changes.
The design features larger-than-life food photography that is purposely styled, lit, and shot. Working within our circle of Toronto’s best food photographers and stylists allowed us to create compelling, appetite-whetting food shots that are emotive and dramatic. The images are real, and shot on backgrounds that are relatable and create intrigue with guests who are encouraged to try new dishes.
Crabby Joe, the brooding proprietor, no longer appears as though he’s grumpy about customer’s in the restaurant, but has been transformed into the guardian of the guest’s experience. If he’s Crabby, it’s because he knows how guests should be treated and takes their experience very seriously, holding staff to a higher standard of service. His voice appears throughout the menu as words of wisdom and humourous quips, lending attitude and a sense of humour to the brand, but he’s no longer a mascot for crabbiness. Instead, he’s hard at work behind the scenes making sure everyone is doing their job and safeguarding the guest experience.