19 Sep Project Profile: New Woodshed Restaurant Website
After a beloved restaurant burned down, a new one rose in its place. Hawthorn built their brand and website – while the restaurant itself was constructed.
The Woodshed restaurant was established in the mid-’70s and quickly took root in the town of Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Its homey feel, excellent service, and word-of-mouth-worthy food attracted many local families and Lake Winnipesaukee tourists. The Woodshed was rustic – not like sawdust-on-the-ground, but in a gather-around-the-hearth kind of way. It looked like its story was going to come to a close after decades in business, though, when a devastating fire burned the restaurant to the ground in 2013, leaving a gaping hole in the community. After learning that the owners didn’t plan to rebuild, Arnold Haynes, a loyal patron of the Woodshed with his wife Carol, decided to build the New Woodshed, to “carry forward the tradition of a place that had provided many fond memories for [their] family and for many others in the Lakes Region community.” While they wanted to rebuild with the familiar aesthetic and feel of the original Woodshed, this was a new restaurant, with new owners, a new building, and naturally, a need for a new brand that was all their own, too.
The New Woodshed was in the unique position of needing to build their brand and online presence at the same time that they were planning and constructing the restaurant itself. One small, early objective was to tackle the seemingly simple: to be found on Google. Because Google had reported the business as closed, though, we had to make a distinction between the original Woodshed and the New Woodshed, which involved setting up Facebook and Google Plus pages.
With a Google presence properly set up, sights turned to the website. Restaurant websites are built to do certain “jobs,” depending on the marketing goals. In this case, the “job” was pretty basic: announce when the restaurant would open and seek job applications. What sort of imagery would be used to communicate who the New Woodshed was, though? Obviously, they had no photos of the restaurant because it didn’t exist yet. So, we designed a logo that felt both fresh and true to the restaurant’s roots. Then came some web design flourishes – antique barn board backgrounds, wood textures, and a few photos of some of the drawings and the early framing of the building, designed to tempt people to come back.
Once the New Woodshed was close to opening, we refreshed the home page with images of the newly built restaurant, giving guests a sense of what to expect inside and outside. Then came the “Our Story” page to describe the restaurant’s winding journey. Next, we created a profile page for the head chef and general manager so people could learn a little about them and start to make some sort of connection. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we created pages for the menu and calendar that are easy for the restaurant to update themselves, without our ongoing help.
The New Woodshed was a unique challenge because it wasn’t as clear-cut as making design and font choices. Throughout, the project was a carefully calculated process in which we strived to be true to the spirit of the original Woodshed while also introducing the New Woodshed to the public – all before the building was complete. The trust the restaurant’s owners placed in us while we worked on their brand and website allowed them to focus on the hands-on elements of opening a restaurant, like constructing the building, hiring a staff, and putting together a menu.
The final product – the New Woodshed’s website – speaks to the strength and thoroughness of our discovery process. We work with more than 300 clients every year, most of whom we’ve never met in person, and our quality of work wouldn’t be possible without a team that really dives into each project to understand the true meaning behind a brand. Restaurant website design varies wildly, and often doesn’t accurately reflect a restaurant’s ethos. In this case, we worked with the New Woodshed to help them establish an authentic digital personality, and it has helped them resonate with an audience while also bringing back many familiar faces from the original restaurant’s days.