Bar Chido is a local cantina with a big brand presence that you’d be more likely to find in the restaurant district of a major city rather than the suburbs of Chicago. But there’s more to the design of this restaurant than a fun visual identity, delicious menus, and a loveable cartoon donkey mascot, appropriately named Señor Chido.
Bar Chido worked with the award-winning branding studio, EightySeven, to create a modern, post-COVID dining experience that could thrive in 2021 and beyond. In addition to developing a bright, playful pastel color palette and mouth-watering handcrafted cocktails, creating an experience that truly fit the needs of modern diners was an absolute necessity for owner Sam Vlahos.
With the project beginning in February 2020, regulations concerning indoor dining were being updated on an almost weekly basis. Leading the Bar Chido team and EightySeven to work together to pivot concepts and design with extra precautions in response to COVID-19.
The first feature that guests might notice is the set of windows that runs across the face of the restaurant. This open space provides Bar Chido’s indoor dining area with proper ventilation while opening up the entire dining experience.
Initially conceived for drive-thru purposes, Bar Chido’s custom takeout window was also reimagined to optimize the experience for walk ups. Now, guests can grab a to-go order with minimal contact. “I think it will still be fun that you walk up and grab your food and go,” Vlahos said. Plans remain in place to eventually convert the window into another concept in the future, providing even more operational flexibility for the Bar Chido team, while also offering a more mobile and unique experience for guests who are on the go.
While Bar Chido was painstakingly designed to optimize post-Covid dining safety, it’s also visually designed to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. “We took a second look at our visuals, voice, and mascot to focus on being friendly. As brand designers, we wanted to be thoughtful about the little things people experience when they visit Bar Chido,” explains Maxwell Billings, Brand Designer and founding partner of EightySeven.
In an effort to amplify the fun of the Bar Chido experience, EightySeven shifted the focus of the brand’s colors from rich reds and yellows to a softer and friendlier brand palette of pastel pink, blue, and green. The Bar Chido logo and font were also redesigned by hand to add unique touches to every letter, bringing a human touch to the brand. Even the mascot, Señor Chido, went through a complete reimagining. “Originally, he was supposed to be a cactus, but after everything that’s happened, we all agreed we needed something friendlier and more inviting. So Maxwell and his team ended up creating this donkey character everyone loves.”
Thanks to Señor Chido’s popularity, the restaurant has also rolled out a line of hats, shirts, and merchandise to drive brand awareness and create additional revenue streams for the restaurant in the event that there’s another shutdown — yet another innovative strategy the Bar Chido and EightySeven teams took into consideration with the design of the restaurant.
For Vlahos, he views the brand experience as a crucial business asset moving forward. “With our future concepts, we’re using branding and design to add to the guest experience while helping us navigate whatever comes our way next.”
To learn more about the post-Covid dining innovations, view the Bar Chido case study here