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Starbird Boldly Goes Where No Fried Chicken Brand Has Gone Before

Chris Dickman Wed, 09/14/2016 - 08:45

A few days ago, at about this time, I was finishing lunch beneath a towering tree next to a stone fountain in the old quarter of a Provencal village in the foothills of the Alps. The owner of the modest restaurant had placed before me a dessert that he had created from his grandmother's recipe and it didn't disappoint. But then neither had the oven-baked Camembert that preceded it, washed down by rosé from a nearby vineyard. In fact, the lunch had been one of those experiences that are increasingly only too rare in France, as the relentless pressure of American fast food culture slowly deflects the traditional French love for local, healthy and authentic food.

So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I stumbled upon the site of a newly-launched fast food restaurant in California and found myself captivated by its chicken sandwich. Before going further, check it out below and tell me if it doesn't look appetising. Unless of course if you're a vegetarian, in which case you should probably stop reading.

The sandwich is the work of an outfit called The Culinary Edge, which until recently offered such services as new restaurant concept development, brand repositioning and menu strategy, along with culinary and operations development. The firm recently decided to strike out on its own, with a mission "to innovate and revolutionize tired restaurant industry segments with purposeful and dynamic concepts." It would seem that fried chicken is the first "tired" restaurant segment to be tackled, in the form of its Starbird concept. This is pitched as no less than "the nation's first super premium fast food restaurant," which attempts to unite such things as locally-grown chicken that is said to be free range, sustainably farmed, antibiotic free and non-GMO, along with organic eggs, gluten-free bread baked inhouse, coffee that's ground and brewed to order, and so on. While the fried chicken recipe didn't come from anyone's grandmother, apparently more than 100 preparations were tested before settling on what the founders modestly call the "perfect crispy chicken recipe."

Of course, these days you need more than food to make a new restaurant concept succeed. In this case the location for the first establishment is tech-intensive Sunnyvale, California. The connection is that while Starbird provides indoor seating, the key is its refresh of the traditional drive-through. The idea is that you employ the Starbird app to order and food is brought to your designated parking spot within five minutes. Okay, it's not quite the same as lunch in a Provencal village but there's nevertheless an attempt at an authentic experience that seems encouraging. Although the claim that Starbird restaurants will "breed positivity and joy" seems a bit of a stretch.

San Francisco studio Strohl was tapped for creating everything from the brand strategy and positioning through to app design, print collateral and the uniforms. Speaking of the logo, the firm states that "The Starbird brand identity was created with the intention of cutting through the visual clutter found in the world of traditional fast food. The resulting mark communicates a bold freshness, combining the simplest forms of a chicken and egg (the latter as a nod to their breakfast offerings). Accompanying typography is clean and direct, matching the optical weight of the mark, while still having enough character to be distinct on its own."

Yo, Scotty! Beam me a Southern Belle sandwich with a side of waffle sticks.

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