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Talking about the second part – Food and Drink PR

4 August 2017

At Me:Mo we’re London hospitality PR specialists. Whether you’re opening a pop-up in Shoreditch or a neighbourhood brasserie in Wimbledon, we’ve got the content, contacts and confidence to get you noticed by the right people and have them knocking down your door to sample that new menu of yours.

When it comes to restaurants we know as well as you do that the appeal of an eatery comes from that winning combination of food, drink, people and place – plus of course the fashion factor and whether you’re on-trend right now – and we like to work with all of those things to help drive people to come and enjoy themselves with you. After all this is food and drink PR! So why is it that so many agencies tend to shy away from talking about the second part? Why don’t they talk about the drinks more often…?

We’d like to take them in isolation for a moment and talk about the selection of drinks for a typical new opening. It’s a complete hypothetical, a London restaurant PR thought-exercise, and bears to relation to any client, past or present.

Welcome to the Me:Mo Bar & Grill.

This is a dirty burgers and smoked meats pop-up that has done well and got the funding to open its first permanent site. Its success so far has been based on doing the simple things really well – a short menu using the best quality ingredients served consistently well to an adoring public who like its edgy styling and juicy burgers. It’s been a pop-up so keeping it simple is a must and the drinks offering has been the same – a handful of canned beers and some left-field soft drinks to wash the burgers and truffle-salt chips down.

Now that they’re opening in a place with a full bar, what do they do? Getting it right pre-launch is as hard as any part of the opening strategy and part of the constant struggle for both restaurateur and London restaurant PR team is to combine the offering and the message to hit the right audience. If you stick with the same three canned beers, one on tap perhaps, plus some Mexican soft drinks and an aloe water, that’s what you had in the van plus a draft offering which should tick all the boxes, right? Yes, it does. For a van. Here you’ve got the space – so why not get a little more interesting? Sure, so most punters will be happy with a Camden Hells or Jarritos but when you’ve got the space you can get interesting.

Looking at a bar which has a choice of two beers, a red and white wine and a rhubarb gin can feel focussed and unfussy but, in an age of such amazing choice, why limit yourself so harshly? The menu has six core burgers, two rotating monthly specials – one meat and one veggie – six sides and some starters. Make sure there’s a flavour carefully matched to each one but without making a fuss. The one with kimchi and blue cheese on it? Make sure there’s a sour beer ready to pair with the pickle and cut through the cheese or a buttery chardonnay ready to warm with the cheese and compliment the pickle. The one with chilli jam and pepperjack? A lightly-hopped pale can cut the heat or a good gewürztraminer will add a sweet tropical slickness to it. The Portobello mushroom and feta burger? A pinot noir’s delicate warmth will be amazing here. Any of these make life so much more interesting for everyone, not least the food and drink PR firm tasked with getting the word out there.

Once the food has been eaten and the matched drinks drink, have you got anything to offer your happy and full customers to drive that last bit of revenue and their last bit of enjoyment before they roll out into the street? Their stomachs are full to bursting so another beer or glass of wine is not an option here, but what about a digestif? A short to send them on their way? If there’s just a rhubarb gin in the back-bar then it’s no sale but a keenly curated selection of brown spirits – rehabilitate and hipster-ise a blended whisky like J&B, put it alongside a handful of keenly-curated bourbons, rums and maybe even a herbal like Kamm & Sons or some Wolfschmitt Kummel and all of a sudden you have something else to give at the end of the meal and they have something else to add to your bottom line. Also, Silver Bullets. Come on, those are going to be so hot next year…

So that’s it, rant over – you know that you neglect the drinks offering at your peril and that simple is never simple but wine pairing is for burgers too, good beers can go brilliantly with fine cuisine and for the love of all that is delicious, make sure your spirits selection is inspiring.

The London restaurant scene has never been more competitive or harder than it is right now, and your food and drink or restaurant PR has to be able to convey the endless message that your place is the place to go. You’ve got the food right. You’ve got the place right. You’ve got the best people. Now make sure that the drinks offering sings and you’ve got the whole thing – let’s all go to your place…

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