Easy Bistro & Bar
The finest ingredients + a few new spices = a recipe for success
In 2005 Erik & Amanda Niel fulfilled a long held dream by opening their very own restaurant, Easy Seafood. After several good years in the business, they felt that the time was right to make a change to expand their culinary offerings. Along with a refined menu, they felt it would be appropriate to renovate the interior design to reflect the high quality of the food. A name change and a new visual identity were the order of the day to communicate these exciting changes to customers.
Photo copyright Jason Connel
Easy Seafood originally targeted tourists as its downtown location is very close to several popular attractions. Over the years the Niels discovered that, while getting business from tourists was fairly simple, attracting locals was proving more difficult -- and much more important for the off-season. So they made a decision to shift from a seafood restaurant to a bistro and bar.
By moving to a traditional bistro menu, Erik could elevate the food quality and maintain a more seasonal approach to the restaurant's offerings. Not only that, but he would be able to explore recipes that excite him and draw upon his training in classical French (and New Orleans) cuisine. A traditional bistro has a simple appeal - familiar, warm, inviting and uncomplicated. And by adding an expanded bar area, customers could feel free to relax and enjoy a drink in the company of friends without the larger commitment of a full meal.
Along with this change in the menu, Amanda Niel redesigned the interior of the restaurant to feel more upscale, open and comfortable. Elegant and understated black and white treatments showcase the historic space - simple tables, settings and tiled floors, vintage green highlights and antique mirrors add to the atmosphere. An expanded bar area with sofa seating and more varieties of tables add more seating.
Widgets & Stone was commissioned to work with the Niels, writer Caleb Ludwick and Brian May of Maycreate Idea Group to create the new identity of Easy Bistro & Bar. The design team drew heavily from the designs of traditional French bistros and restaurants in New Orleans' French Quarter. The decorative wrought ironwork featured on many historic homes in New Orleans provided the underlying curvelinear forms of the logo. The dotted treatment brings to mind the bulbs of old fashioned marquee lights and hints at the bright lights of Paris' 18th arrondissment.
The entire visual identity is strategically designed to communicate the bistro atmosphere and traditional French cuisine of Easy through multiple applications. Along with thoughtful placements of the logo on elegant coasters and in the entryway floor tile, various sized menus were designed to printed onsite each day by the chef. The typography on the menus and napkin rings exhibits a 'decorative eclecticism' historically associated with bistros. Napkin rings feature a variety of popular menu items, each in its own typeface.
Creative Direction: Paul Rustand; Design: Brad Dicharry, Joseph Shipp, Matt Greenwell; Photography: Grant Dotson. Strategy and writing: Caleb Ludwick.