Tribes, communities, fans – these are just a few names for a group of people sharing a passion. It’s not surprising that many companies want to build these communities, but I know someone who is doing this in a surprising industry – restaurants. And as a result, he is looking to expand while others are closing their doors.
I knew Marc Murphy, executive chef and owner of the Anvil Restaurant Group, to be a fantastic chef, and I had been to his Landmarc restaurant in Tribeca, New York, many times. But it wasn’t until I noticed the crowd waiting for tables one night (while other restaurants sat empty) that I recognized his business success and wondered: what’s his secret?
The key, it seems, is built into the company’s mission statement: “Dedicated to bringing a sense of community back to its diners and staff.”
And with community as a cornerstone, Marc has carefully cultivated a brand that extends across all areas of the business – from pricing to staffing – and across properties. (After opening Landmarc in 2004, he opened Ditch Plains in 2006 and a second Landmarc in the Time Warner Center in 2007.)
“We’ve always put a lot of thought into our branding. When I opened Landmarc, I didn’t want a white-glove, high-end restaurant. I wanted a down-to-earth neighborhood restaurant – the kind you go back to again and again,” Marc told me. “Key to this has been great food and service but also great value. Value is what’s buoying us through the recession. Customers are now more discerning, more demanding when it comes to value.”
Internally, they’ve built their community by hiring the right people and training managers to create a more team-like environment. They also produce a newsletter to keep employees informed about news from the different restaurants and within the industry in general.
Perhaps even more interesting, to me, is how Marc has intertwined his personal brand community into Anvil’s. Marc has been very busy building his profile, appearing in numerous media outlets, including “Chopped,” “Iron Chef,” “The Today Show,” “Martha Stewart Living,” Food and Wine, and The New York Times, to name a few. And he’s not just using channels that seem open to only chefs. He’s also started using Twitter and Facebook, as well as Webcasts and e-mail blasts.
All of this has been directed at building a fan base for Marc and, of course, his restaurants. In fact, his personal brand is so strong that they’re considering changing the name of the company to Marc Murphy Restaurants. And, as Marc is currently raising money for a fourth restaurant, his fans should have something else to look forward to soon.
And I look forward to hearing more of your stories. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your experience could help to inspire other business owners. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @marcyshinder.
For more information on Marc Murphy (member since 2000) and the Anvil Restaurant Group, visit www.marc-murphy.com or www.anvilny.com. You can also follow Marc on Twitter @chefmarcmurphy.