Startup Restaurant Concept Development, Naming, & Branding


Hibachi in a quick service format is popular throughout northern South Carolina. With competing brands churning out similar concepts from product to visuals, it was evident that in order to stay competitive, Tokyo Grill would have to rethink their brand from the ground, up.

Finding the fire for a fast casual hibachi brand

Future success depended on getting ahead of the pack of similar concepts found in the brand’s core market area. That meant taking a drastic leap forward by establishing points of uniqueness that staked a claim to a whitespace in the brandscape. By reinforcing and communicating the fresh, clean flavors made in house daily, while stepping away from expected Japanese visual clichés, we could draw in the market’s attention with something new.

Heavy red and blacks with dark wood in typical Japanese style craftsmanship adorned each Tokyo Grill location. The menu contained the usual suspects found on teppanyaki restaurant product mixes. It also included some basic sushi, and snacks from frozen

Fire Up Happiness

Fire is what makes hibachi/teppanyaki  entertaining, but most limited service restaurants hide the fire from the audience. We sought to bring the theater back to the front line in the interiors, and in the hearts of our team and customers. This shift created a direct line to owning “craft” and “fresh”, reducing the need to verbally claim it.

With the fire up front, we developed a menu built on housemade, clean flavors that setup the brand for new lines of revenue in consumer packaged goods. A line of sauces would take the main stage. Yum yum and teriyaki being staples, we extended the palette to five more Japanese-inspired, fusion favorites.

All the work on in the kitchen fueled the creative behind the brand identity and interior design. Our inspiration was found in the iconic Shisa, or “foo dog”, who served as guardians of temples. These creatures brought forth imagery and attitude that played well with the brand’s new direction. The Shisa inspired the new brand name, Shisabachi; a combination of hibachi and shisa to create a direct connection to what we do and our playful attitude.

Colors of fire, stone, and calming beige and white, helped create a yin and yang experience where actual fire was allowed to be exhilarating, but the clean, fresh food was allowed to calm. The result was a modern expression of Japanese-influenced, fast casual wonder.

Back To Top