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Preparing Prints for Food


Downtown Eatries Supply Steady Stream of Business


By Amber Watson


Part 1 of 2

Graphics drive business and successful restaurants promote—from wallcoverings to window films, menu boards, and counter signs. Print service providers (PSPs) located near thriving, ever-changing downtown eateries are uniquely positioned to form lasting partnerships with local restaurant owners.


For PSPs the food industry supplies a steady stream of business as new eateries open, old establishments update and revamp locations, and restaurant owners refer new clients.


Location, Location, Location

It’s all about location for Savannah, GA based PSP, Image is Everything. The shop operates out of a 6,000 square foot facility located in the downtown Savannah area, which sustains most of the local tourism. Like many major cities, Savannah is known for its amazing food. The restaurant industry, and in turn, Image is Everything’s business, are supported by tourists who come to sample the savory eateries.


Since opening its doors in 1998, the shop services the restaurant industry, offering laser and large format printing, which covers the majority of graphics required by a single restaurant. From designing, creating, and printing menus, to producing window vinyl featuring store hours or a logo, this PSP does it all.


Catering to Changes

The restaurant business constantly changes and keeps Image is Everything engaged. “From simple closings to store revamps or re-openings, we are busy with updates, or something new going into a storefront,” shares Heath Moore, VP, Image is Everything.


According to Moore, the goals of restaurant owners changed drastically over the past few years. While the bulk of business previously consisted of larger installs—such as wall wraps and large-scale graphics, or more elaborate menus—there is a shift back to the basics with tighter budgets to blame. “Less money is spent on the flash, and more on the cash—focusing on the food and the experience,” says Moore.


Tasks are performed using Roland DGA Corporation printers, a Hewlett-Packard Designjet Z6100, a Mimaki U.S.A., Inc. JF-1631, and Xerox Corporation devices. Most jobs are vinyl, so the shop uses a Roland with eco-solvent ink and Oracal USA brand vinyl to print wall graphics, or to print and cut window graphics.


Consult Through Challenges

Moore finds most restaurant owners understand timelines. “Few of our clients require jobs last minute; restaurant owners plan ahead and work with us on the design and concept for stores,” he shares. “The main challenge with restaurant graphics is the installation.”


Image is Everything tries to learn from past mistakes. “Sometimes on large wall installs we have come up short by three to six inches. There is just no easy way to correct the problem on a large continuous graphic,” admits Moore. He advises other PSPs to measure with care before a job is printed and installed.


Time and distance is another challenge. “When you run a small shop and your installer is out all day because he’s driving two to three hours to get to a location, it causes a jam,” explains Moore. “Usually graphics are some of the last items to get installed in a restaurant, and when you combine travel with complications it’s a nightmare.”


To combat these challenges, Moore stresses the importance of consultation. He finds many people think printed graphics are inexpensive, when in truth, they are not. “You need to manage your customer’s expectations,” he advises. “Sometimes in the restaurant industry expectations for graphics are not reasonable. The first thing I do is put down some numbers for the entire job. Usually this brings the client’s expectations to a more realistic level.” Once you establish a good relationship with a restaurant, you are able to make suggestions, offer advice, and encourage creativity.


Fun Graphics for Frozen Yogurt

The small frozen yogurt chain Lovin’ Spoons is a repeat customer at Image is Everything. The PSP created and installed window decals, menus, wall graphics, and even vehicle wraps for three stores, and revamped parts of the first location. It takes about eight hours to properly install each piece, and there are multiple pieces for each store. “Graphics are installed slowly and carefully with lots of squeegees,” adds Moore.


The frozen yogurt business hired a design group out of Atlanta, GA—Mighty 8th Media—who provided fun, 60’s inspired graphics for Image is Everything to bring to life. The job consisted of mostly vinyl wall graphics, shape cutouts, boards, and magnets. “Each location has a slightly different feel, but one of the newest stores enjoys a flashier look, which enhances the experience,” says Moore.


Even with chain restaurants and shops, the vision and requirements differ between locations. Collecting input over time helps determine what material works best in environments facing issues such as heavy foot traffic, food stains, and fingerprints. “Discovering from each store what does and doesn’t work as far as placement and longevity is part of the learning experience,” shares Moore. “Luckily, our graphics have held up better than the paint on the walls,” he notes.


Consultations are essential when it comes to servicing the food industry. “We met with representatives from Lovin’ Spoons three to five times before beginning the process to avoid complications before it came time to do the install,” says Moore. Every time the shop does a build out it learns from the job before, gaining valuable experience along the way.


Flexibility in the Food Industry

Printing and installing graphics for the restaurant industry requires a degree of flexibility, as each location and job varies depending on the vision, budget, and specific needs of the establishment. Still, for PSPs willing to take on new challenges and learn from experience, restaurants offer a consistent stream of revenue.


Part two of this series takes an up close look at a one man shop printing graphics for restaurants, clubs, and bars.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Jun2012, Digital Output  DORT1206

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