We often talk about enhancing customer experience by intentionally branding and designing a business’s physical space. Josh has even written a few columns about it, the most recent of which can be found here at the Mississippi Business Journal website. 

One of our clients, the Eat With Us restaurant group, recently took a huge risk to do just that—shutting their doors for a month to pour money into large-scale restaurant renovations. Imagine that: turning off your income for a month.

I was lucky enough to run into Eat With Us CEO John Bean on a trip to the newly renovated restaurant the weekend after they reopened. He was enjoying a sandwich in the booth next to mine and could barely finish his meal for the customers and employees who kept stopping by to share compliments and thanks.

He told me his customers have been so excited and responsive to the updates it feels like they opened a whole other restaurant. 

While Bean and his company were dealing with all the decisions a renovation warrants, our brand director decided to approach them about freshening the Harveys brand mark. After all, the best time to rebrand is when new signage is already being purchased. 

“In this case, the Harveys brand mark called for an update in design that would make it more adaptable for new uses as well as making it relevant for the evolving market,” said Mabus Agency Brand Strategy Director Paul Mitchell. “The timing was perfect in that the Starkville location was in line for a re-model, since signage is typically the largest expense in a retail rebrand.”

Mitchell and Bean worked closely to make sure the brand update was classic but modern enough to fit into digital ads and web space. It also had to complement the renovations the restaurant was undergoing while remaining consistent with the look and feel of the Harveys locations in Columbus and Tupelo. 

Mitchell said he wanted to make sure to accurately represent the experience of going to Harveys, as well as the quality and freshness of the restaurant’s food. 

“One of the most important aspects of the restaurant industry is to constantly stay relevant and fresh in the consumer’s mind. With a proper brand that can stand the test of time now in place, Harveys can stay relevant and fresh doing what they do best; making amazing food,” he said.

Jamie Weir, of Weir Boerner, the Jackson-based architecture firm responsible for many of the Harveys Starkville remodel elements, said he wanted to create an environment where customers would feel welcome and at home, even if they aren’t hungry.

“In Jackson, we may not be hungry, but we’ll stop by a cool spot to get an appetizer and drink if the atmosphere is cool and we have an excuse to spend time together,” he said. “We want to make people as comfortable as they can and then leave something for them to want to come back and encourage others to as well. It’s more than the great product—the furniture and materials and textures have to be a part of that experience.”

Bean said the most surprising and exciting response he’s gotten is from his employees, who stuck with him through the month of closure, and now have so much pride in the space in which they work. 

They’ve upped their game,” he said. “There is only so much I can do with the infrastructure and look. The interior look is something I can do, but the day-to-day taking care of guests is on them, and they have taken their game up. They’re proud of what we did, and they’re showing it.”

At Mabus Agency, we’ve always said investing in the space in which you work and do business will pay off, whether through your employees or customer interactions. The Harveys renovations in Starkville are further proof of what we’ve always known to be true. 

Read more about what Josh has to say about investing in your space here.

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