As a kid growing up in Houston, Texas, I was no stranger to the family-friendly casual dining chain restaurant. “Foodie” wasn't even a concept in the early 1990s, so when my parents took us out for a special occasion, or I took my date out before the junior high dance, we found ourselves at TGI Friday's in Willowbrook Mall.
Looking back, we never went to these restaurants specifically for the cuisine (though I did love Friday’s potato skins). The food was fine, but it was really about the time spent with family and friends.
I still enjoy dining out, but like many others, I have higher expectations when it comes to food and a restaurant experience. While dining out is on the rise, casual chain dining is on the decline. The problem seems to be how to make the "chain" feel a little less corporate and a lot more personal, social, and local—without sacrificing convenience and affordability.
Produce attention-getting research insights and preliminary design concepts for new casual dining clients.
Identify moments in a typical casual dining experience where the customer experience could be enhanced with technology to facilitate more meaningful social interactions.
Address the challenges of how to effectively align the fine-tuned restaurant operation (front and back of house) with new customer-focused media experiences.
I coordinated and executed a contextual research process to study prospect client restaurants and their customers over twelve weeks of interviews and observation at multiple sites, times of day, and social occasions (birthdays, happy hour, holidays).
I created a database of field notes, interviews, and site recordings and synthesized the data into specific insights for the experience designers and architects.
We produced several low-cost rapid prototypes, which we documented in media and renderings for client design documents and proposals.
We built a relationship with a leading casual dining corporation that generated design briefs tailored to concepts we proposed for in-store media architecture and digital brand platforms.
Identifying and qualifying client leads in the casual dining industry.
Coordinating meetings with c-suite connections and delivering pitches and presentations.
Planning and conducting contextual field research and interviews for three major casual dining brands.
Planning and producing prototyping workshops.
Project management and resource planning.
Writing design briefs, research documents, proposals, scripts, and presentation decks.
Art direction, storyboarding, and diagram design.