1. SWOT Analysis:
The internal strengths of Stove restaurant are: The chef focuses on preparing fresh, healthy, in-season food by growing his own produce and herbs, along with making his own sausage and curing his own hams for his dishes. In addition, he purchases fresh produce from local farmers. He also buys cheese, seafood, and meat from local farmers and fishermen. The grits he prepares are purchased from a lady in Northern Mississippi, who gets them from farmers who grow heirloom corn, not the genetically modified corn produced by Monsanto. The chef/owner is from Mississippi and many of his dishes give new twists to traditional Southern recipes. They are made from scratch by a chef trained in the culinary arts. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list. The small size (ten or 11 tables) of the restaurant allows the chef/owner and staff to focus on the quality of the food and service rather than cooking for and serving a large number of customers. There is a lounge area that can accommodate a slightly larger party.
The internal weaknesses of the business are: The restaurant has limited days and hours, because they are a small restaurant, not part of a restaurant chain. People must have reservations for dinner and these cannot be made online. There are only two time frames to choose from when making reservations, the 5-6:30 timeframe or 8:00-9:00pm or until 10:00pm on weekends. The restaurant is small, so it can only accomodate ten tables worth of guests. It is also not family friendly as far as children go, as there are no highchairs or booster seats or a kids’ menu. I may be mistaken, but judging by all that is going on with the website, I would assume that the chef/owner is disorganized and/or possibly have too many things on his plate.
The external opportunities for the business are: They are located near the Atlantic coast and can attract tourists who come to the area on vacation. An abundant supply of fresh seafood and local produce due to their location. The owner creates his own artwork in his down time and has/had some of his pieces in a Virginia art gallery; that could help draw new customers in or lead to opportunities for catering art shows.
The external threats for the business are: Other seafood restaurants in the area could draw diners away from Stove. Areas of concern could be base closures in the Hampton Roads area, shipyard layoffs, crime rate of the surrounding area of Portsmouth, and anything that would effect the supply of fresh local seafood, meat, and produce.
2. Competitive Analysis
Who is the competition? List URLs and justification for your answers. Some of Stove competitors are: Lobscouser, Cafe Europa, Brutti’s, and Foggy Point Bar and Grill. I chose each of these for different reasons such as dining style, type of cuisine, location of restaurant, and/or pricing.
What is the competition doing well? What is the competition not doing well? Lobscouser: It is located in Olde Towne Portsmouth. As the name implies, it is a seafood restaurant. Their website states “our goal was to create a fine dining experience without the high pricing thereby giving both locals and visitors a place to eat or a place to dine..a place for a quick lunch or a leisurely dining experience.”After looking at their menus, their prices do seem quite reasonable for chicken, seafood, and steak entrees ranging from $5.50 to $9.99 for lunch to $10.99 to $24.99 for dinner. Having never eaten there, I can’t personally comment on the quality or flavor of the food or the customer service, however reviews on urbanspoon were mixed when it came to the food, but practically all of the comments about the decor, smell of the restaurant, and the service were less than favorable.
Cafe Europa: Located in Olde Towne Portsmouth, as well, Cafe Europa is known as a fine dining restaurant. They serve Mediterranean cuisine, however they also serve seafood dishes such as lobster, scallops, and shrimp. Lunch entrees range from $10.95 to $14.95 while dinner entree prices range from $15.75 to $24.95. There were 212 reviews on urbanspoon and the comments were extremely favorable. Diners commented on the beautiful decor inside the restaurant, the excellent customer service from the teams of servers, and the spectacular food, drinks, and desserts. The only negative feedback was in regards to the close proximity of the tables to one another and the high noise level due to that fact. A couple of reviews mentioned the pace of the meal reflecting a European style, which means you purchase your table for the evening, so the point is to enjoy a leisurely meal with your dinner companions. This means diners must plan for a longer evening out than most traditional American restaurants. Cafe Europa has a good wine selection to compliment their meals.
Brutti’s: Just around the corner from the VAC, in Olde Towne Portsmouth, is Brutti’s, which serves American and European inspired cuisine, but also serves a number of seafood dishes. They are rated on urbanspoon as one of the higher priced restaurants in Portsmouth, along with Stove and Cafe Europa. From the pictures on Brutti’s website, as well as the comments on urban spoon, the interior seems nicely decorated. Slow customer service seems to be their downfall based on online reviews. They require reservations, but these can be set up online on their user friendly website. They also have local comedy on friday nights, 20% off every Tuesday for military, vets, and first responders. In addition, they have have a full service catering business, which is actually how Brutti’s began in 1993. They have a kid’s menu, a large variety of cuisine on the menu, an outdoor patio area, and they serve Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. Some review spoke highly of their weekend breakfast buffet even though most admitted it was pricey, while others complained about the food on the buffet being cold and having set out too long.
Foggy Point Bar and Grill: It is located inside the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Conference Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth, so right off the bat, that is the one of the biggest differences between it and Stove. It is also one of higher priced restaurants in Olde Towne Portsmouth. It also has a nice view of the water outside. The site states that it is fine dining, yet has a casual dress code. From the pictures on the website, it looks tastefully decorated and the hotel provides many amenities along with boardrooms, ballrooms, and conference rooms. There were only four reviews on urbanspoon, two of which were very positive about the food, one complained about the waitress, and the other two were unavailable. It is in a prime location for some sight seeing and local annual events nearby.
3. Goals : What are the goals for your redesign? Above all else, the first goal is to provide a simple, clear, organized structure for the redesign of Stove’s website so that site users can find the information they seek without becoming overwhelmed by too much information. Second, I think it is important that the unique style of the restaurant, chef, and his goal of creating and serving new versions of traditional Southern dishes with fresh, healthy ingredients for his customers shine through when a user visits Stove’s website.
What is the history of the restaurant? Stove has a relatively short history. It has been open for about 6-7 years, though the chef/owner ran another fine dining restaurant before opening Stove.
What is the communication goal for the site? Stove’s website needs to communicate relevant information about the restaurant in a clear, simple format. The communication goal for Stove’s website is to provide current information that website users need to make an informed decision about whether they would like to dine there or not.
What is the desired action for a user? The desired action for a user is to be able to navigate Stove’s website easily, so they can find the information they are searching for and hopefully want to come try out the restaurant.
4. User Profile
Who is the target audience? They cater more to couples and small groups of middle-age to older people, due to the menu items and lack of kid’s menu and seating. Their prices are high, so that would it would not necessarily be affordable to younger people or those with limited financial resources.
List characteristics of a hypothetical user: Characteristics of a hypothetical user would be adventurous, fun, middle-age to slightly older, distinguished palette yet open to new tastes, financially stable, laid back, casual, and perhaps maybe even a little quirky like the chef.
Describe the environment of an average user:
Ask someone that you know in the target market to interact with the site and record how they feel about the site? The person I spoke with in the target market for Stove said the site left him feeling confused. He said the website felt like it was designed to entertain the chef’s family and friends,rather than to attract new customers or even truly serve customers information. When presented with so many pages of information and links to other websites with information, he stated that the current site made him feel like the designer of it is wasting his time with a bunch of useless information that should be put on a personal site or blog, not on a business’ website.
5. Site Map/Diagram the existing pages
What are the brand attributes? Stove is a quirky, quaint, small,one of a kind restaurant. Adjectives that I think of to describe the restaurant based on it’s website content and pictures are fresh, local, sort of southern comfort food with a new take, and definitely unique.
Do you imagine that you will need to redesign the brand mark? Stove has no brand mark or logo, as far as I can see from the website, so I do anticipate needing to design one. From the name of the restaurant, Stove in some fashion seems to be the obvious choice.
What is the brand promise? My take on Stove’s promise is that you will always get fresh, in-season, locally purchased ingredients to prepare your meal and it will be served in a quaint, quirky atmosphere by waitstaff who are focused on quality service. It’s Southern style cooking with a the chef’s new flair added to it.
What is brand mission? The brand promise is to serve fresh, healthy meals (seafood and southern style with a unique twist) with ingredients purchased from mostly local farmers and fishermen in a quaint casual environment.