Each week on #TheHook, Jason deconstructs a different brand and analyzes how products, services, and the images and words that sell them come together to create an overall customer experience. Join him every Saturday at 4pm on KPRC AM 950 for marketing tips, tricks and strategies to help grow your business.
This week’s brand: Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen (Cypresswood & Stuebner Airline)
This Tex-Mex restaurant has 10 locations sprinkled throughout Houston suburbs that serve up enchiladas, fajitas, and other classic favorites from south of the border. While (like any good Texan) we know our way around some chile con queso, we are by no means food critics or product review specialists. What we’re looking for is what we do best—a professional, consistent brand experience.
Gringo’s prides itself on being “Authentic TexMex for the Authentic American” and its 20+ year history shows that people agree! Founder and serial restaurateur Russell Ybarra, a self-described “Master Enchilada Roller,” has more than 30 years in the restaurant industry and oversees more than 20 restaurant units. Expanding from one location in Pearland, Texas to 10 across the Houston metro area since 1993, Gringo’s has obvious found its #hook when it comes to enticing hungry customers.
Loading the website pulls the lever on a “Tex Mex Jackpot” slot machine, providing consistency and continuity with their “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”-inspired logo (with Las Vegas, Nevada switched to Gringo’s Tex-Mex, of course). The website is colorful, fun, and engaging. The slot machine provides navigation links and displays dinner combination recommendations. Clicking the lever makes it spin to show more menu favorites. Their slogan “The Odds Are in Our Flavor” keeps the Vegas casino theme going. The key here is they are already kicking off an experience that they effectively tie to their brand. Fun! Excitement! But with quality that will never be a gamble.
Curb Side: A
Gringo’s is hard to miss with its aforementioned flashy Vegas-inspired logo. Its signage represents both fun and excitement while also letting passing drivers know there is a delicious warm meal inside. But don’t worry: it still looks more like a family establishment than it does a casino meaning you can bring your kids instead of calling the sitter.
Initial Contact: A
Your experience in any restaurant starts the second you walk through the door. Upon walking into Gringo’s, we were immediately greeted by a friendly, smiling hostess. This set a level of hospitality and professionalism that instantly made us feel welcome.
The Vegas theatrics from the website are well integrated into the décor of the restaurant. The location presents the perfect combination of salsa and slot machines. Every corner of the restaurant was well thought out, from the color of the lighting to the textures of the booths and wall. It gave you the feeling we all get when we are ready to enjoy a meal: a comfortable anticipation of something delicious in your immediate future.
The menu wasn’t too overwhelming; it had enough items to make coming back worth the trip, but was not so extensive that it made deciding what you wanted to eat a 45-minute process. The dishes seemed to have a more of a culinary touch than your typical neighborhood Mexican restaurant. In addition to classic Tex-Mex fare, they had house favorites like “The Pollo Marisco”, a chicken breast topped with sautéed shrimp and crawfish tails in a creamy white wine sauce. These gourmet additions definitely elevated the quality of the menu, but could also make the bill total a little higher than your typical taqueria. Overall, the food is well worth the price. Of course, the two most important things when it comes to Tex-Mex is the salsa and the margaritas, and Gringo’s gets high marks for both.
The service was attentive but not suffocating; the drinks and chips were always refilled. Our waiter seemed knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions for Tex-Mex newbies who might need a brush up on their Spanish. They had a diverse team who all were friendly and helpful, adding to the at-home feeling already instilled by the food and the environment.
A brand should be completely consistent, even in the bathroom; you can’t say we’re not thorough in our analysis! The bathroom décor matched the dining area, and the facilities were very clean and well maintained.
Gringo’s does a great job of establishing a brand identity and carrying that through to every aspect of the dining experience. From the website, to the menu offerings, to the signage, to the décor, Gringo’s promises a fun and entertaining experience and delivers on that promise.
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