Today we launch “DOUBLE TAKE” where we offer a marketing review of local restaurants and retail stores. These are not compensated endorsements, but rather independent reviews intended to bring attention to the good efforts people are making and where we see room for opportunity and improvement. This is not a FOOD review, but rather a review of their marketing efforts (unsolicited). We’ll take a look at various aspects of the marketing experience as it relates to this particular location. BUT, the point of these double takes is to inspire you to look at your own business, your restaurant, your retail store. We all learn from one another.

WARNING: Copycat marketing is the worst marketing: this means you are only doing what you are doing because you saw someone else do it (aka, “if your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”) When you see what someone else is doing and you see it working, don’t simply replicate the tactic, but rather BE INSPIRED to come up with a unique technique that works JUST FOR YOU. To have the strongest foundation in your marketing efforts, build ALL your marketing efforts around a systematic and simple plan. At 1429, we consider Duct Tape Marketing to be a strong foundation for small business.

REVIEW: 04/08 – Tolbert’s Restaurant, Grapevine, TX


Last week, the Marketing Twins went to Historic Grapevine to do some visiting with clients, do a little pre-Mother’s Day shopping, and we stopped to grab a bite to eat at Tolbert’s Restaurant in the heart of this very popular shopping district off Main Street near Hwy 114.

Great service! We were energetically greeted by Janie (pardon any misspelling) who helped us with menus and immediately struck up a conversation. Robots make no personal interaction with you, people do. Sometimes it seems like receptionists are nothing more than robots (Welcome. How many in your party? Sit Down. Wait. Be patient. Your turn. Right this way.) Not at Tolbert’s – great upfront service! For those of you reading this review, think of your business: how do your customers feel when they walk in your doors? Are they greeted warmly? This is huge for restaurants – people make split-second decisions based on wait-time, ambiance, and friendly receptionists. At our table, our server Jim was an excellent server. He was very interactive and personable, but kept an appropriate distance. One thing that we both do (hey, we’re twins!) is that neither one of us likes to drink from straws. Now when you are at most restaurants, they will bring you a straw with your drink. Both of us immediately took it out and put it aside. When Jim saw we needed refills, he brought us new glasses and put them down and noted, “here’s you some more Diet Cokes . . . with no straws.” It’s a very small thing, but that showed us that he was paying attention to his customer. It’s a small thing to do, but when we paid out (and thought about tip), don’t think we didn’t remember that little added extra.


I’m a big nut over menu design (Randy). If you are a local mom-n-pop shop and you have a take-away-menu, then even YOU should have one that looks nice – and is legible! If you are a nice restaurant like Tolbert’s, you, too, need to have a menu that is easy on the eyes, invigorating to your taste-buds, and appropriate to the style of restaurant you have. And when it comes to legibility, we would recommend a limited use of ALL CAPS or SMALL CAPS. On the Tolbert’s menu, way too much! If you don’t understand SMALL CAPS, see graphic below.


*NOTE* : a menu redesign might be in order – contact us, we can help!

We were immediately struck by how many different kinds of visual representations there are in this place. The use of your logo is so important! At least 5 different ways of saying “We’re Tolbert’s!” Unless you are sponsoring a contest where you are soliciting feedback from your clients on their favorite version, just pick ONE! McDonald’s didn’t get where they are in logo recognition (by 4-year-olds even) by using a variety of different fonts, arches and colors. Consistency builds brand recognition! Although in this age of affordable digitized artwork, we usually question why businesses continue to employ hand-drawn artwork in their logo. But the Tolbert’s logo that is most common uses hand-drawn artwork which actually can lend itself to the history of this great restaurant in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. If you are a shop just starting out trying to sell yourself as an established business, normally steer clear of your nephew’s keen eye for hand-drawn artwork in your logo. Let him do some murals on the hallway to the bathroom!

In addition to the logo, when you are a restaurant and want to employ the chalkboard out front (or prominently displayed on the wall inside the restaurant), make sure the artist who is drawing “TODAY’S SPECIAL” really is an artist. Chalk-in-hand does not an artist make! Surely there’s someone on staff at Tolbert’s that can write neatly and even add some fun graphics with colored chalk! I always read boards of this nature and you see them enough nowadays that if they are done right, you marvel at their keen ability to create magnificent rendering of chips and salsa with colored sidewalk chalk! But when done poorly, it looks sloppy and reminds me of my 5-year old on our front driveway. All I want to say is “Clean it up!” HINT: There’s some incredible talent in your organization! Perhaps there’s a dishwasher or cook in the back who is an amazing artist (don’t assume the chalk drawings and lettering to be done strictly by the reception staff). For some of you, the mechanic in the back may have not only great technical skills, but also the very best personality to deal with an angry customer. When you need him, don’t hesitate to send for him! When you engage your team in a variety of levels of the marketing experience, you make everyone keen to the reality that they ALL have a role to play in marketing your business. Also, when it comes to artwork of this kind, there are lots of starvin’ artists (young and old) who would love the opportunity to do some contract work for very little money (give them the opportunity to develop a great portfolio).

We thought the food and price were good and appropriate. Again, we’re not food critics. If you are in the restaurant business, your food and the cost of it is your PRODUCT and PRICE. Especially if you are not just selling $1 lollipops or 25 cent lemonade drinks, then make sure your product is WORTH what the customer is paying. Over-deliver. Maybe in some fancy restaurants in France “small portions means classy”, but in Texas, your portions should be reflected in how much you are dishing out for this. At Tolbert’s I think what we got was fair and affordable. Appropriate value.

We both looked at your website when we returned to our office – it’s not bad. Content is good and you get a sense of what Tolbert’s has to offer. BUT considering the history of this place and it’s location is the popular Grapevine Historical District, then I think the website needs a makeover. In the competitive food and restaurant industry, you gotta stand out! We like the opportunity to become a CHILI-HEAD, but on the website, make it a bigger deal and make it a mini-logo. Text surrounding a pepper is not a logo. Plus, the text is so small that it looks like you are saying “chili-lead”. Just go with a larger font as part of a logo. The concept is good. I couldn’t ever get the submission form to work to actually become a CHILI-HEAD. Might want to check that if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your reward program. HINT: Tolbert’s is doing a couple of things right here. One, make sure you have a reward program for repeat customers. There’s too much competition out there not to reward people for coming back to you over and over. Two, by obtaining email addresses on signup forms, you can do alot with email marketing! If you are not currently doing email marketing, we can help you with setup and execution. It’s really pretty easy and very affordable! Most plans start at less than $10 a month!!

*NOTE*: at the restaurant itself, we were never presented with the option of becoming a chili-head . . . if you seek repeat business, don’t let a customer walk out the door without giving them a reason to come back.


We give Tolbert’s a 4 out of 5 DOUBLE TAKE rating!

Listen to the Marketing Twins DOUBLE TAKE review!

NOW WHAT? If you are with Tolbert’s (or if you’re just reading this review), go here to learn your next steps to marketing success!