In early 2013, Expedition PR was brought on board to help with the opening of Falansai Vietnamese Kitchen (pronounced faa-laan-sai) in Brooklyn. The restaurant opened its doors in May 2013 in a remote corner of Bushwick, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn that is known for its galleries and street art. The goal was to position Falansai in the greater New York restaurant scene as a medium-priced restaurant whose dishes reflect the cross-pollinated culture of Vietnam, blending the heritage of Vietnamese street-food food with French flavors and Chinese cuisine, particularly from the ChaoZhou region. The restaurant uses fresh seasonal ingredients for its dishes.
Strategy & Program
The agency cooked up an integrated communications program to announce the opening of Falansai to diners and taste makers, combining media relations, social media marketing, events, advertising, and email marketing. Key activities included:
1. Let Diners Experience the Art of Vietnamese Food
- Attract diners: The team identified the most important social media channels for Falansai to engage with diners and “foodies”. The agency created social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare for the restaurant and is using platforms such as Yelp and OpenTable for marketing activities and customer feedback. The agency place ads in neighborhood guides, including Brooklyn Now, Bushwick Daily and Wickbush.
- Engage diners: Using keywords, the team is monitoring discussions about food and art in Bushwick/Brooklyn for engagement via Twitter. Updates about dishes and drinks are posted across the social media channels and communicated via a monthly newsletter.
- Build a community: Falansai participated in the first Bushwick Restaurant Week 2013, an initiative to bring more diners from other neighborhoods to Bushwick.
- Education: At the end of the year, the restaurant hosted its first cooking class, teaching participants how to make Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Falansai’s Auntie Luu. Class participants not only walked away with the know-how to make summer rolls, including the sauce, but also an understanding and appreciation of the process behind the dishes.
2. Establish Relationships with Bloggers & Restaurant Critics:
The opening of Falansai was first covered by Grubstreet. Time Out New York featured Falansai in the lead of its new restaurant column in the week of the opening. The agency distributed a press release to publications that are covering food and restaurants in New York and arranged meetings with local and food bloggers. After the restaurant was running for a couple of months, the team hosted its first group tasting for bloggers to introduce the 2013 fall dishes, along with a selection of Falansai’s wines.
After six months up-and-running, the restaurant established close relationships with food and local bloggers and its Bushwick community, including art galleries and fellow business owners.
- Honors: L Magazine and Brooklyn Based listed Falansai as the best new Brooklyn restaurant in 2013; Brooklyn Magazine named Falansai’s Clay-pot Catfish among the best 20 dishes in 2013. Village Voice named the Clay-pot Cat fish among the top 100 dishes in NYC; Falansai was listed in the 2014 Michelin Guide. Falansai’s chef Henry Trieu was named among the best new chefs in 2013 by Brooklyn Magazine.
- Media: The Falansai opening was covered by several print and online publications including Time Out New York, The Village Voice WSJ, Grubstreet, Brooklyn Based, Brooklyn Exposed, The L Magazine, Bushwick Daily and Tasting Table.