TURNSTONE PIZZA CREATED BY BRANDTRIP PARTNERS OPENS 7TH LOCATION IN RIYADH

The brand we created for our Saudi Arabia client has added another location.  The 7th Turnstone Pizza location opened in Riyadh in the high profile Rubeen development alongside Shake Shack and other top growth concepts.  View the case study here> http://bit.ly/2qjjySV

TURNSTONE PIZZA CREATED BY BRANDTRIP PARTNERS OPENS 3RD LOCATION IN RIYADH

The brand we created for our Saudi Arabia client continues to grow.  The 3rd Turnstone Pizza location opened in Riyadh this month with more units under construction.  View the case study here> http://bit.ly/2qjjySV

Turnstone Pizza Created By BrandTrip Partners Opens 2nd Location In Riyadh

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The brand we created for our Saudi Arabia client continues to grow.  The 2nd Turnstone Pizza location opened in Riyadh this month with more units under construction.  View the case study here> http://bit.ly/2qjjySV

70.3 Ironman Austin BrandTrip Partners CEO Challenge Raises $1,320 For Challenged Athletes

With the help of many generous friends, our CEO Tim Hackbardt was able to raise $1,320 for Challenged Athletes Foundation with his challenge to complete the 70.3 Ironman in Austin, Texas. This funding will be used to help people with physical challenges pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and athletics. It will help them afford the cost of equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics, and resources for training and competition expenses.

We would like to thank the following donors that will help so many have their dreams of competition in sports come true.

$200 Arthur Yelsey

$200 Ralph Rubio

$100 Alison Glen Delaney

$100 Nancy Kruse

$100 Pete Bell

$100 Peggy McCormick

$75 Chuck Olson

$75 Shane Wheatland

$50 Doug Reifschneider

$50 Patrick Lenow

$50 Karen Zaniker

$50 Heather Eppink

$50 Julee Ferguson

$50 Jim Hackbardt

$25 Joan Hansen

$20 Dana Olson

Mobile Payments Today "5 Tidbits You Need To Know" At CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit Include Quote From BTP CEO Tim Hackbardt

Following the CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit, Mobile Payments Today published an article on the "5 Tidbits You Need To Know" from the conference.  #3 was contributed by our own BTP CEO, Tim Hackbardt while speaking while sharing vision and learnings from our work with restaurant chains developing new mobile Technology, big data and media strategies during the session titled "Personalized & Relevant:  Cracking The Code On Mobile Success."

In the Mobile Payments Today article, his counsel included the following quote from the session:  "Adoption works really well when [consumers] utilize an app and the staff knows what to do. That's the area where people are falling behind.  We see everything falling down right there [with untrained staff].  Adoption isn't going to happen unless that experience at the restaurant is good."

Here is a summary of all 5 tidbits from the article.

  1. Douglas Kwong, digital director, Cicis Pizza: "The mobile industry right now is like [search engine optimization] in the mid-2000s. We know it's important, we're trying to figure out how to prioritize its importance against the other channels." Kwong made the statement during a panel discussion about the mobile marketer's dilemma of how best to reach consumers on smartphones. Cicis launched its mobile app in December and saw 100,000 downloads in the first five weeks.
     
  2. Graham Gunst, associate partner of interactive experience and digital strategy, IBM Interactive Experience: "I'm going to get a better experience if I exchange it for some data. Obviously, I want my data protected. [But] it's the trade-off of a better experience for privacy." Gunst shared this view during a panel discussion about how different connected devices are becoming more prevalent in the shopping experience. And with that comes questions about whether consumers are willing to share private information in exchange for an incentive or service.
     
  3. Tim Hackbardt, CEO, BrandTrip Advisors:"Adoption works really well when [consumers] utilize an app and the staff knows what to do. That's the area where people are falling behind. We see everything falling down right there [with untrained staff]. Adoption isn't going to happen unless that experience at the restaurant is good.” Hackbardt brought up this longstanding issue during a panel about cracking the code on mobile success.
     
  4. Joe Scartz, managing director of digital commerce and integration, TPN: "[Mobile] is an extension of the consumer. If you want to create great user experiences, mobile is going to be a central part." Scartz reiterated a common theme at the summit during the mobile marketer's dilemma panel.
     
  5. Rick Ruskin, marketing and product of online commerce, General Motors:"The traditional buying model is dead. It's not there anymore. As we look at this customer journey changing, the buying process is done before you talk to the customer." Ruskin's view on the current shopping experience is probably one of the best you'll hear at a conference and he made this comment as he moderated the "Going Beyond the Phone" panel.

CEO Tim Hackbardt Presents At CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit In Chicago

On August 16th, BTP CEO Tim Hackbardt presented at CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit to a room full of mobile technology, retail and restaurant professionals at the Sofitel Water Tower Hotel in Chicago.  Christopher Gumprecht from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Prem Kiran from Fishbowl also joined him on the panel.

Covering the topic "Personalized & Relevant:  Cracking The Code On Mobile Success", Mr. Hackbardt shared vision and learnings from our work with restaurant chains developing new mobile technology, big data and media strategies.

BrandTrip CEO France Cycling Challenge Raises $4,260 For Challenged Athletes Foundation

BrandTrip Partners CEO Tim Hackbardt completed his challenge to climb 10 of the most famous mountains of the Tour de France in 8 days on August 3rd.  With the help of many generous friends, he was able to raise $4,260 for Challenged Athletes Foundation

This funding will be used to help people with physical challenges pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and athletics.  It will help them afford the cost of equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skies and sports prosthetics, and resources for training and competition expenses.

For his daily re-cap of the challenge ride visit ClimbingFranceForCAF.wordpress.com to read about the difficulties, photos, scenery and of course food he encountered along the way.

We would like to thank the following donors that will help so many have their dreams of competition in sports come true.

$1,000 Bob Cutler - C3

$1,000 Arthur Yelsey - MediaSpot

$250 Dev Ganson - Fishbowl

$100 John Svoboda - Svoboda Studios

$100 Linda Ferrara

$100 Rob Taylor - SplickIt

$100 Ivan Matkovic - SpendGo

$100 Eileen Murray

$100 Nancy Kruse - The Kruse Company

$100 Maggie Reyna - Taco Bell

$100 Mary Rosenberg - Global Media Group

$100 Peggy McCormick - MMM Marketing

$100 John Vitro - Vitro

$100 Jamie Carawan - Front Burner Restaurants

$100 Kevin Rice - Hathway

$100 Pete Bell - Fishbowl

$100 Doug Reifschneider - Firehouse Subs

$50 Karen Zaniker - KZ Marketing

$50 Sloane Perras - The Krystal Company

$50 Marina Segedy - Dextro & Sinistro

$50 Kim Zupfer - KM Food Consulting

$50 Christy Geiling - Rubio's

$50 Juan George - OLO

$50 Jamie Bucciarelli - Paytronix

$50 Barbara Johnson

$50 Chef Barb Colucci

$50 Rosemary Doody - Pieology

$50 Chad Bailey - Yogurtland

$25 Joan Hansen - Marie Callender's

$25 Amy Stoddard

$25 Darren Nutt

$25 Patrick Lenow - Dine Equity

$25 Marcella Hackbardt

BrandTrip CEO Completes France Cycling Challenge With Big Numbers Despite Weather Setback

BrandTrip Partners CEO Tim Hackbardt finished his goal to climb 10 of the most famous Tour de France mountains in eight days with a little improvisation. 

On July 31st, as he was beginning to ascend the final switchbacks on Col du Galibier, three consecutive thunder/lightening storms took him off the road scrambling for shelter as described in his blog entry Epic Turns Ugly & Sheep Attack.  Due to the dangerous weather conditions, he was not able to complete the climb.

However, to keep his promise of 10 big mountain ascents he dug deep and went big for a "make-up" climb.  On his last day, he attacked the famous 21 switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez and did a double for a total of 50 miles, 9,306 feet of climbing and 42 switchbacks on the iconic mountain.

Final totals for training and the challenge trip are as follows:

TREK TRAVEL PROMOTES CEO TIM HACKBARDT'S CHALLENGE TO CLIMB 10 TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAINS IN 8 DAYS TO RAISE AWARNESS & FUNDS FOR CHALLENGED ATHLETES FOUNDATION

Today, Trek Travel began to share Tim Hackbardt's blog covering his journey to climb 10 of the most famous mountains of the Tour de France in 8 days by bicycle with a goal to raise awareness and $10,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation this summer.  

The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) raises money to help people with physical challenges pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and athletics. CAF’s mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, competitive lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love.

To make a donation towards the $10,000 goal click here.  100% of donations go to CAF. 

Beginning on July 27th, at his own expense, he will begin a cycling sufferfest in the Pyranees and ending in the French Alps. Legendary cols will include Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Galibier and the grueling ascent of Alpe d'Huez. By the end of the week, over 33,000 vertical feet of mountains will have been climbed beneath his tires.

To follow his training blog click here.

To follow his facebook training page click here.

It is certainly a tall challenge, but one that pales in comparison to the challenges many CAF athletes face in overcoming physical disabilities and being able to afford the cost of equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics, and resources for training and competition expenses.

By making a donation towards his fundraising goal you will provide individuals with physical challenges with the tools necessary to find success in sports — and in life.

Brandtrip CEO tim hackbardt Climbing 10 Tour de France Mountains To Raise FUNDS For Challenged Athletes Foundation

BrandTrip Partners CEO Tim Hackbardt will take on a challenge to climb 10 of the most famous mountains of the Tour de France in 8 days by bicycle with a goal to raise $10,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation this summer. To support the fundraising ride with a donation towards the $10,000 goal, please click here.  100% of donations go to CAF.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) raises money to help people with physical challenges pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and athletics. CAF’s mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, competitive lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love.

Beginning on July 27th, at his own expense, he will begin a cycling sufferfest in the Pyranees and ending in the French Alps. Legendary cols will include Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Galibier and the grueling ascent of Alpe d'Huez. By the end of the week, over 33,000 vertical feet of mountains will have been climbed beneath his tires.

"It is certainly a tall challenge, but one that pales in comparison to the challenges many CAF athletes face in overcoming physical disabilities and being able to afford the cost of equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics, and resources for training and competition expenses," Hackbardt said.

"By making a donation towards my fundraising goal you will provide individuals with physical challenges with the tools necessary to find success in sports — and in life!" Hackbardt added.

To support the fundraising ride with a donation towards the $10,000 goal, please click here.  100% of donations go to CAF.

To follow his training blog, click here.

To follow his facebook training page click here.

WELCOME THE BARSTILLERY RESTAURANT - TREND OR MICRO-NICHE FAD?

-The 3rd Blog Entry In Our Grand Rapids, Michigan Emerging Concept Tour Series

Move over BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, pack it in Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and watch the wine club memberships deplete like the 1929 stock market Coopers Hawk Winery!  The Barstillery has arrived!  Let's all give a warm welcome to  Flatlanders micro-distillery restaurant.  The latest to join the micro-brewery, micro-winery, micro-roaster, micro-juicing restaurant trend.  

During our recent tour of emerging Michigan restaurant concepts, an old high school friend turned us on to this self proclaimed "Hillbilly Chic" hipster magnet.  Built in a former lumber yard, there is no lack of texture and symbolism to get you in the mood to toss back some fine hooch, shine, specialty cocktails, bourbon aged brews and even flights of spirits for the adventurous with a DD in tow we hope.

That all being said (Yes, we will get to the part about whether the shine was fine...), Flatlanders gets it mostly right with truly tasty vittles even hill folk with a partial set would tell their spouse/cousin about.  Lots of local, of course, including a selection of sausages from the micro-butcher next door, beer cheese poutine on hand punched fries, expected/welcomed Flatlanders BBQ Bourbon pulled pork and Sweet Potato Hobo Pie for dessert to name a few.  

A number of our picks are shown below.  A must have are the Devil's Eggs served over sriracha and garnished individually with a jalapeno slice.  Tasty, with a nice sharp heat balanced by the creamy egg yolk.  Next up, Sweet Potato & Apple Hush Pups.  Of course they are healthy, they have sweet potatoes in them right?  They are even extra heart friendly with the accompanying brown butter sage dip.  Continuing the hillbilly fusion menu flow was their apparently seasonal fall favorite Fried Chicken & Pumpkin Waffles with bourbon syrup.  Not sure if the chicken and waffles were the best, but you could pour that bourbon syrup on a carburetor your eyes would still roll back in your head from the savory, sweet, liquory (That's a word right?) wonderful coating of your taste buds.

Opportunities?  Possibly off track from the hillbilly fusion theme were Mahi-Mahi fish tacos?  What's up with that?  Buffalo shrimp?  Then there is the uninspiring salad section and glaring lack of theme appropriate sausages like Cajun, Andouille, wild boar, we could probably think a few more up if we took 10 seconds...I mean work with us here Flatlanders you have to nail this sausage thing.

How were the spirits?  It is a Barstillery after all.  They are locally distilled using Flatlander recipes, but not distilled on-site.  Who cares.  4 our of 5 were amazing!  Especially, the bourbon.  It is clearly their signature product being featured first on the menu in a non-alphabetical top to bottom list.  Gin is at the bottom of the list, as it should be, after tasting a flight and a few cocktails.  With the surging popularity in botanical gin, they may want to work on this one.  We were thinking of  continuing with the Michigan theme on the Gin with one called "Ole White Pine" (A nod to the great indigenous conifer that is also the state tree of the mitten shaped state and the pleasing pine needle aroma that some gins can bring to the party.) which has been a proven road driven by Rogue with their popular Oregon made Pink Spruce Gin.  The bourbon on the other hand, don't touch the recipe!  

As expected, a signature Flatlanders spirits cocktail selection rounds out the menu.  In particular, the Mayberry Manhattan, Mississippi Mule and the Oh Canada with maple syrup, cream liqueur, fresh cream and a maple sugar rim made for a comfortable fall evening experience.  

Additional revenue is driven through off-premise sales at local retailers where the liquor line-up can also be found helping prove the promise, drive trial, solidify fans and grow the higher level brand.

Finally, nice work on broadening the concept with a week of barrel aged beers during Whisky Fest.  The Saugatuck BA Bonfire Brown beer was exceptional after being aged in Flatlanders bourbon barrels for a limited run.  

So foodie friends, restaurant experts and stumblers upon this rambling blog does a Barstillery restaurant have more speed to market than a three legged hillbilly hound?  Can it play in Austin, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco metros and still find room to play in the burbs for scale?  Should BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Yardhouse, Old Chicago and others strike now with their own self-stilled shines before these micro-newbies like FlatlandersPark Distillery and Bardenay (Who now has three locations and claims to be the nations first restaurant distillery.) steal their mash and customer base?

Uncle Cheetah's Vs. The Melt - Industry Innovation Irony

-The 2nd Blog Entry In Our Grand Rapids, Michigan Emerging Concept Tour Series

As we coveted the last drops of our Guatamalan grounds pour over from the coffee gods at Rowster Coffee (See 1st series blog entry The Starbucks Killer? - Real Coffee Cred?”.) it became clearly apparent, through our front window view at the roastery of java dreams, we were in the middle of a street of revitalization.  Across this original brick paved street stood a repurposed gas station turned sit-down Mexican mash-up-aurant.  Next to our parking space the haute dog place that looked very wienerlicious.  Glancing further to the East the emerging foodieville seemed to continue with another chef driven, passion livin’, locally givin’ corner of cool cusine in every third or fourth building between long ago boarded up abandoned brick locales and businesses that somehow survived the last fifty years of tough times.  A street ironically called Wealthy Street.

Buzzed from the beans at Rowster, the metabolism had now reached the point where significant sustenance was needed.  The free wi-fi blazing through the brushed steel laptops confirmed via google maps that tough choices lie ahead of us down this street of mystery menus in our search for nourishment, and culinary enlightenment.  Too soon to blow our dinner calorie chits, we opted for a more lunch directed choice which will now go down in history as the Cheetah choice.  There were not just one, but two places with the name Cheetah in them only a block apart.  The Electric Cheetah and Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop.  We could only assume that one was so successful the other became a creative real estate expansion to handle the demand.  With this notion of Cheetah prowess, and our need to be of service to the ever expanding chain bakery café/grilled cheese/soup categories, we made our decision to visit the annex first and soup it up at the soup shop.

With limited time, and considerable caloric big game ahead of us already targeted for dinner (See 3rd series blog entry Welcome The Barstillery - Trend or Micro-Niche Fad?”.), we opted for a single sandwich and soup safari at Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop.  Like a big cat at a crowded Wildebeest watering hole, the choice was not easy.  Uncle Cheetah has some serious stew and sammie chops.  Listed daily, only on their facebook page, here were our October 19th choices.

The sandwiches weren’t any easier (see menu below).  In fact, upon closer observation, we had entered an evil grilled cheese vortex featuring eight melty wonders and a daily special called “Creole On A Roll” made with shaved Cajun turkey, pepper jack cheese, sautéed peppers & onions, & Cajun ranch on a fresh Nantucket Bakery challah slider bun. The menu (see below) continued with recipes including delectable melted dairy choices including smoked gouda, goat cheese cream, house boursin and fresh mozz just to name a few.  Spreads and toppings like corn cabbage slaw, jalapeno tomato jam and a raspberry chipotle sauce made our single sandwich selection even more confounding.

Our sammie of choice….The Pig Newton!  We always love a good sandwich on the border of trademark infringement.  So good, it must be worth the legal risk!  Thick cut smoked bacon slabs, a healthy layer of melted brie cheese and caramelized onions slathered with an orange-fig jam on grilled sourdough.  Our soup of choice….it was fall, so Pumpkin Chorizo called to us with a haunting tone that couldn’t be squashed. 

The Pig Newton (see below) was a definite shut the front door grilled sammie moment. Sweet, savory, smoky, crunchy, melty….mmmmm.  Hope you don’t need more of a review than that.  Pumpkin Chorizo soup?  Shut the garage door too people!  The need for the Uncle annex was obvious. Even more obvious was the need to visit the mother Cheetah to see where this one got it’s spots.  If this was the limited sampling of what was back at the den, we couldn't wait to see what was powering the larger Electric Cheetah.  

Additionally obvious was the irony of our industry obsession to talk about the topic of flavor innovation to capture those experimental Millennials back from local concepts like this.  These big flavors were not hard recipes to execute.  The menu was small enough for operations to pump out the significant volume to the throngs coming in and out of the door.  Yet, when you look at chain concepts in Bakery Cafe, and the smaller grilled cheese segment, the innovation seems to be lost back in the test kitchen somewhere along the way.  

As an example, a quick internet search showed the big buzz concept, Silicon Valley funded, The Melt now has only four very basic grilled cheese sandwiches.  They have virtually abandoned their category niche. Instead of innovating like a Cheetah, The Melt has instead taken a strategy of adding equally boring/expected burgers to ostensibly "pivot," as they would say in the tech world, and find a way to survive by offering a an even longer list of non-differentiating recipes.  

Alternatively, Shark Tank featured grilled cheesers Tom+Chee has stayed on point with unique flavors, breads and alternative cheeses making their menu a signature destination concept including Grilled Cheese Donuts that take the buzz up another level on the food chain.

With that long diatribe on the state of melted cheese menus, and marketing mumble, the question is now posed to the reader:  You are walking down the street seeking your noon nourishment and you have the choice of Uncle Cheetah's Soup Shop or The Melt.  Which grilled which-aurant steals your hard earned cheese?  BrandTrippin' peeps are curious as a cat on Wealthy Street.

The Starbucks Killer? - Real Coffee Cred?

-The 1st Blog Entry In Our Grand Rapids, Michigan Emerging Concept Tour Series

No, for a change, we weren't on a project researching coffee.  We weren't looking for inspiration or the next flavor trend.  All we wanted was a cup of coffee and some wi-fi just like any other day on the road.  We weren't trying, but they found us at Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  

It was another example of an accidental discovery thanks to our friend Google Maps.  Speak into the phone and say "Coffee Shop".  Look for something not a chain and not too far away.  Hit navigate and see what happens.  That's how we got to Rowster Coffee.

The hardest part about getting to this mecca for roasted bean purists was entering through the back door and having to walk over and around burlap sacks of beans.  No, these were not a few sacrificial sacks of product for show like the potatoes at Five Guys.  They were what you were going to drink.  It was the first sign that this place was far from your typical chain with the proverbial brand word wall mandated by the interior design team.  No baked goods or retail shelves trying to sell you everything but exceptional coffee either. 

The second sign was just as obvious as we quickly scanned the patrons.  Hipsters, millennials, Mac toting creatives and foodies like us savoring and appreciating the artistry that was magically produced the same day (in some cases a few minutes ago) from the roaster just a few feet from them on the other side of the counter.  Forget that half of the clientele clearly just woke up (it was 2:00 in the afternoon) and showering was obviously the second step of their daily rising routine; these were people in-the-know.  These were people who could appreciate a $5.00 cup of coffee and were happily walking out with a pound of Costa Rican sun dried beans for the low, low price of $20.00.  

Was the coffee exceptional?  Yes.  It should have been.  Freshly roasted in that little hyper-over designed and engineered Italian looking machine with the round duct work coming out of it.  Our coffee god took literally five minutes to make it as he did the pour-over-the-grounds-thing and sat there with a timer in his hand to make sure it steeped for the exact amount of time.  Not kidding, he stood there next to the coffee staring at it with his timer in hand.  His care was not altered by pesky customers wanting to place their order or waiting orders either.  One cup at a time at Rowster.  One perfect cup at a time.

Did we walk out with a pound of it?  Yes.  It was crazy good.  We also watched local restaurants show up for their 5 pound orders one after the other too.  This, of course, pulled the chain on the light bulbs in our heads connected to our restaurant concept revenue calculators.  There were more streams of beans to count than the ones waking up our unshaven friends in flip flops surfing the internet and likely taking up space at the counter for some time to come that afternoon.

Is this the wave of the future to differentiate against the coffee chains?  We have since found more of these purists beginning to brew some expansion past one or two locations.  Is it a trend?  Is it sustainable?  Can it scale?  We would love to know your caffeine induced thoughts.

Your Next Beer Tasting Trip - The Hops Highway

Located in San Diego, we are in the epicenter of the craft brewing explosion.  In fact, there are more craft breweries in San Diego than there are McDonald's locations.  Little did we know that now one of our main corridors has been named "The Hops Highway"!  For you, if you are a craft beer fan, this may seriously be on the bucket list for your next vacation.  For our clients, this makes it easy for us to experience the craft beer trends as they happen in real time and help them time strategic beverage decisions appropriately for their brand.

The Hops Higway has 39 breweries located next to the 78 highway corridor.  The selection of breweries has it all including the small guys with one roll up door like On The Tracks Brewery to the category killer Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and local favorite Belching Beaver Brewery where you can find everything from sours to stouts.  We know, because we have.  We haven't hit all 39, but we are working on it pint by pint and taster by taster.  

Make sure you call us if you are headed out our way to our highway of suds and growlers.

Your Next Wine Tasting Trip - 33 Wineries & No Driving

If you are looking for a great wine experience, and don't want to have to worry about transportation, look no further than the small California town of Los Olivos.  

On a recent wine exploration trip to the Central Coast, we stopped in Los Olivos for a bite to eat and a sip of some Sauvingon Blanc on a hot summer day.  We landed at Malibu Wines where we conveniently found a gourmet food truck outside who promptly delivered to us an amazing tri-tip steak salad with goat cheese and grilled romaine lettuce.  

This is the type of experience you can find throughout this small town packed full of wine tasting rooms.  In no less than two to three blocks in any direction, you will find 33 wineries represented!  Yes, 33 wineries!  If you can drink wine and walk, this is your town.  There is only one hotel, The Fess Parker Inn, but look on AirBNB for more options and a truly convenient walking wine tasting tour.

Meat-O-Clock In Austin

The year was 2013.  It was August in Texas.  We landed in Austin early with six hours before we had to meet with a potential client.  It was noon.  Which, for us, also means Meat-O-Clock!  We opened Google Maps and simply searched "Austin BBQ Brisket".  We blindly selected the first place that had 4 or more stars, launched the navigation and followed the directions of our female sounding digital guide to what we hoped would be smoky BBQ heaven.  

From the airport to a locale near downtown, next to an old neighborhood that is now probably taken over by Austin hipsters, we parked behind what appeared to be homemade trailers of sorts.  As we walked by them the picture became more clear.  They were literally a fleet of BBQ smoking trailers made from unidentifiable chassis and corrugated roofing panels on all five sides.  Next to each, were piles of wood.  It was almost too beautiful of a scene. Needless to say, our pace picked up on the way to what appeared to be a well deserved line.  

A line it was.  At 12:35 pm there was easily over 100 people in a serpentine through railings, down old concrete steps, out onto/down the sidewalk and back next to the upper level of the outdoor dining porch (It's a BBQ joint so it ain't no patio, it's a porch).  We took our place in what appeared to be a focused, but civil, crowd of expectant carnivores and began to wait our turn not knowing when we might get through this crude theme park style line to be able to experience the BBQ roller coaster.

Less than a minute after we cued up in the line a robust bearded man with smoke on his cheeks, and sauce on his apron, appeared directly above us on the porch.  The man spoke with 100% attention of the crowd.  "Here at Franklin (Yes, it is the Franklin Barbecue that was featured in American Express commercials and the movie Chef.), we smoke this meat out back for 18 hours.  That means when it's gone, it's gone.  We can't make anymore for today."  He then looked down upon our BrandTrip Partners founder Tim and began to hand him a piece of BBQ stained butcher paper with something written on it.  He continued, "This man is the Last Man Standin'.  That means he is guaranteed anything he wants.  Ribs, sausage, brisket, chicken...anything we smoke he can get it.  Anyone behind him might get somehtin', or might get nothin'.  But, the Last Man Standin' can get it all.  However, sir, it's about an hour and a half from where you are standin' right now before you get any meat."

Sure enough, the butcher paper said "Last Man Standin'" hand written with a Sharpie.  Upon closer inspection, it was clear that Franklin Barbecue is an equal opportunity meat provider as the other side had "Last Woman Standin'" inscribed on it.  And...sure enough it was an hour and a half to the minute that it took for that line to get the Last Man Standin' in the "On Deck" position.  Tim was greeted with cheers from the staff and congratulatory words from the management.  On top of that, he was informed that his entire meal was gratis and he could have anything he wanted.  Seeing that it was now 2:00 pm and there had been no nourishment since breakfast, he ordered "Some of each please, and a pint of that local pecan porter beer."  A large plastic tray with mountain of meat, some white bread, potato salad and a fine dark malted beverage was fastidiously bestowed in front of him.

Was it good?  Let's just say it was one of those days where you loved your job.  

ROI for Franklin's free tray of meat for the Last Man Standin' and a greasy butcher paper sign = Countless times we have told this story, blog posts read by thousands and a warm feeling for everything Franklin.  Do you have a Last Man Standin' moment you can create for your brand?

Pizza Truth

While driving through rural Michigan we stopped by Country Dairy for some fresh, as fresh can be, steaks.  As we passed by their deli to get to the meat case, we saw this sign.  This sign says it all when it comes to pizza!

To Mead or Not To Mead? What Is It Anyway Honey?

We spent a very enjoyable evening at the annual San Diego MIT Enterprise Forum Wine Social benefiting San Diego STEM and SEPT students.  Located at the Birch Aquarium with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, what better place to enjoy sampling from over 35 boutique wineries.  Then we ran into Mead.  Sweet, sweet, mellow Mead.  We must say, we were very happy to meet his acquaintance, but we admittedly knew nothing about Mead and got a quick education when we rookies called him beer. 

Thanks to our friends at Golden Coast Mead, we were enlightened to find out that Mead is fermented honey.  With the popularity of sweeter malted beverages, will Mead be the next Angry Orchard?  The next hard root beer?  The next hard lemonade?  Seems like Mead is not the sexiest of names so the marketers might need to work their magic on this one.  However, keep the marketers away from the brewers.  Mead is too sweet a beverage to mess with.  How would you adjust the name to be more mass market?

Franchising Fun In Canada - Get Your Smokes

We were in Canada working on a technology project and met with a potential partner in Toronto.  While there, we ran into a unique branding angle for restaurant concepts.  This entrepreneur took three different concepts and cleverly rolled them all under one umbrella that worked well across his portfolio.  So, if you like to wear plaid, and you are looking for a "Weinerie", a "Poutinerie" or a "Burritorie" give Smoke a call.  We are sure there is a franchise combo deal in there somewhere for you if you take all three.

Where There's Success, There's Smokes