How might we use EGD tactics to improve a restaurant experience, and capture heritage without losing soul?
Maria’s Cafe
Puro San Anto Joy.
Maria’s Cafe is local, beloved, and “Real y True” to San Antonio’s Tejano roots. It operates out of a small, modest building in the Southtown area.
Know the place
This family-owned restaurant is a beacon of Texas Mexican culture. It has been serving traditional, centuries-old, home-style soul food since 1987, and is as close to local flavor that a restaurant can get. It even looks and feels like your abuelita’s kitchen.
Know the space
Find the logic the family business operates under, and use it. The brand promise is in the history of the location and their customer service. These also pose the greatest opportunity for improvements. As a make-shift museum, the space is getting full. And, since it's common to hear their owner say, “If you don’t see it on the menu, we'll make it for you and add it to the menu,” a growing number of make-shift menu boards presents is also presenting a usability challenge.
Know the culture. Build a language.
The family's culture is where you will find their restaurant's soul. San Antonio has a rich history spanning back generations, if not a millennia. It's menu is populated by regional treasures mistakenly called inauthentic “Tex-Mex“ by the uninformed. Understanding the past is where the future brand identity of this experience lies.
Craft a palette
A relevant and standardized visual palette ensures consistency and promotes recall.
Build an honest identity
I created a logo that communicates the brand values and adheres to the cultural experience that it promises. Maria’s Cafe is the “Real Deal” when it comes to authentic San Antonio soul food.
Orchestrate an honest experience
With experiential graphic design, I created an authentic and organically generated restaurant experience. It is not fluid and trendy, but it is flexible and expandable.
This was as much a cultural preservation exercise as it was a brand update. Maria's Cafe is a San Antonio institution, and its new design celebrates its unique character and history without surrendering to meaningless stylistic trends. By giving the growing menu system a sustainable and logical strategy, the solution is now functionality and practicality wrapped in cultural pride and customer appreciation.

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