In the Spring of 2012, The Tragus Group approached us with an interesting and challenging brief: take a longstanding, iconic and enormously popular high street restaurant brand and revolutionise it for the more discerning and sophisticated modern youth demographic. Approaching the project with great sensitivity, we wanted to be respectful of the Café Rouge brand heritage, but inject contemporary touches, zest, innovation and attention to detail. The market place for high street restaurant chain concepts had moved on a great deal over the years, and it was time to bring this brand up to date.
Inspired by the quintessential Hotel Du Nord and other classic, bohemian Parisian bistros located around the Canal St Martin area, we created a new, experiential brand universe and design concept based on Gallic heritage, timeless authenticity, idiosyncratic quirkiness and continental humour. The four pilot sites launched at the end of 2012, and the response from both loyal and new Café Rouge customers alike defied all expectations. Some sites showed sales increases of up to 40%, swiftly energising the board to approve and fund the rollout of the scheme to all 125 Café Rouge sites, as well as all new openings going forwards.