Sunday, September 30, 2012

Online Content Development: Aunt Anne's Place

Organization: Aunt Anne’s Place

Serving Great Food for a Reasonable Price

TBD, but ideally in an old warehouse in either downtown Raleigh or Durham


Aunt Anne’s Place is a restaurant that breaks all or most of the rules and becomes a part of the neighborhood. Open only for dinner, 6 days a week. Menu changes monthly; consists of only 10-12 items made primarily from local seasonal items. This neighborhood joint is furnished with tables and chairs bought at auction, yard sales and/or estate sales. AAP has an open kitchen and a waiting area that feels like home (sofa, stuffed armchairs, and coffee table with magazines). Maybe even has a basketball hoop outside. Rather than pay for a liquor license, AA Place would offer patrons the chance to BYOB and store in our cooler to be served by our wait staff. Would staff with neighborhood folks and would rely heavily on word of mouth advertising and social media. In an effort to support the neighborhood, we would run promotions on social media, i.e. for aspiring cooks/chefs, “Submit your Best Summer Recipe” for a chance to have it put on the menu this summer or win an internship with our chef. Another promotion idea could target budding designers by offering them the opportunity to exhibit their work on the walls of the restaurant, paint a mural on the outside of the restaurant or the chance to redesign the AAP website or menu. Ideally the restaurant would continually find ways to further integrate into the neighborhood and community by giving back and lending a helping hand to its patrons. Create an annual scholarship that helps send a local kid to cooking school. Hire neighborhoodies who love to cook but maybe aren’t licensed chefs. Offer employment benefits that most restaurants do not. Would like to have a “chef’s table” in the kitchen or near the kitchen for special events. The idea is to become part of the fabric of the neighborhood, not just another good restaurant.

Audience profile:

Primary Audience: Local Neighborhood: families, professionals after work, college students
Secondary Audience: Community at large.

The audience includes educated professionals living in North Carolina’s Research Triangle community (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), people who love food and the experience of eating out. It also includes students, faculty and staff at area colleges, and families living in the neighborhood.

Durham has been ranked as the "Foodiest Small Town in America." Nearly 40 Durham restaurants and chefs have earned reputations in high profile media sources such as Bon Appétit, Gourmet, The New York Times, and Food & Wine. With more than two dozen mobile food units and trucks, Durham also has a growing mobile food scene with everything from burgers and barbecue to sausages and sliders, relying on a mobile-savvy citizenry seeking them out through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Downtown Raleigh is home to nearly 100 restaurants as well as the Convention Center, state government offices and Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts. Also nearby are the campuses of N.C.S.U. and Meredith College. 

Website approach:

Communicate the atmosphere of the restaurant as well as its food. Design should be clean and uncluttered, often featuring large, sepia tone imagery of the restaurant interior, sumptuous close-ups of its dishes, and friendly shots and profiles of the wait and cook staff. Other features could include:

  • Menu
  • Location including map of the neighborhood and directions
  • Hours of Operation
  • Chefs Blog, featuring specials, menu changes, and other tidbits from around the neighborhood
  • Recipe of the Month, offering for download one seasonal recipe from each month’s menu
  • Possibly nutritional information about the menu
  • Contact Us
  • Frequent Diner Discount program, possibly could spearhead the creation of a partnership program among neighborhood vendors/stores geared towards easing the financial burdens on locals

What readers need to know:

This website is primarily an informational one. The most important content a viewer of the site would need to know, that should be easily accessible from the homepage:

  • Information about what kind of restaurant this is and what our mission is, including photos of the restaurant.
  • Our Menu, including photos of our sumptuous offerings.
  • Restaurant hours, open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner.
  • A seating chart.
  • Directions to the restaurant.
  • Parking Information.

Frequency of “publication”:

Minimally, it should be updated as the menu changes, monthly. Changes to hours of operation, the addition of events or new staff, posts to the chef’s blog, as well as social media components such as Facebook and Twitter necessitate ongoing updates.

The competition:

There are tons of restaurants in both potential locations competing for diners’ attention. Since I haven’t determined the price points of my menu, only that I want to keep costs down for my patrons, I can’t provide a specific list of direct competitors. With that in mind, here is a list of some key competitors in the neighborhoods I’m interested in.

Downtown Raleigh:

Second Empire
The Pit
Irregardless Cafe
Café Luna
Oxford Gastropub
Poole’s Downtown Diner
Capital Club 16

Downtown Durham:

Rue Cler
Beyu Café
L'Uva Enoteca

Restaurant websites run the spectrum from very basic to fairly deep in terms of content and approach. Most seem to offer the basics: menu, glam shots of food and possibly the restaurant, hours, map with directions and contact information. Others have social media information (links to Facebook page, twitter feed), articles they've been featured in, a reservation engine, profiles of executive chef and staff. One I found (Rue Cler) promoted a cooking class series they’re offering, awards they've won and links to other events they’re sponsoring.

Style issues:

The Associated Press Stylebook is the recommended style guide for the site. I’m not as familiar with the other style guides so it seems like the obvious choice. It is also possible that I will need to add to the framework the AP Stylebook provides.

Information challenges:

Since a key role of the Web site is to draw diners to the restaurant, it’s critical to keep the Web site fresh and current. I will likely use WordPress as the CMS (content management system) since it seems to be easy to use.

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