As a self-proclaimed foodie, I must admit that when my foodie-er friend took me to Brickhouse, an eerie image of someone prying my kidneys out with tongs flashed before my eyes.
Brickhouse, if you haven’t been, is literally a hole in the wall inside an alley in Lan Kwai Fong next to a purse stall. There is no helpful map or a phone number on its website for to help you yet there.
Yet, the idea of going without a map or a publicised phone number was the original idea when Matt Reid and Malcolm Wood first found the location.
“There are only two ways to marketing in the restaurant business – they either spend all the budget on rent and sit back and wait for people to notice you, or on an actual campaign: we are neither,” said Reid director of Maximal Concepts, the mastermind behind F&B outlets like Brickhouse, PLAY, Blue Butcher and Flawless.
He says the nature and location of Brickhouse, which serves Mexican street food, already exudes a “trendy and cool” vibe that allows them to be this quirky in their marketing.
“It’s not easy to make a restaurant look like it has been there forever, which is what Brickhouse looks like; and it’s even harder to make it look like it’s not marketed.”
Wood, managing director at Maximal Concepts chimed in: “We deliberately try to make it hard to find. The talking point will be how people find it. At the end of the day, they will find it, and that’s our talking point.”
Though not every outlet is marketed the same way. Blue Butcher, for example, still requires some traditional marketing of site listings and word of mouth promotion – Reid and Wood said that Maximal Concepts’ decision to build and market their own restaurants is to ensure congruity and continuity between product and marketing.
“We want to unveil a logical journey for our restaurants; and when you employ an agency, most things get lost when you handover your idea to the marketing execution: the language changes at that stage because if you think about it, everyone involved in the project will describe it ever so slightly differently,” said Reid.
“We can’t stop that evolution, but what we can do is try to keep the voice and the language consistent.”
Wood agreed, adding that experience is at the core of Maximal Concepts.
“We want to establish a connection in the city, to actually belong in that space rather than having customers just take an elevator that opens up to some restaurant. Our outlets need to have their own being.”