Each one of the 68 Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill locations has its own virtual presence. Visitors to the Orlando, Fla.-based chain's Web site, smokeybones.com, enter their ZIP codes to be redirected to a separate page for the restaurant in their city. "This way you'll know your hostess when you get there. Sort of ..." says the splash page. In addition to the usual menu and hours of operation, each restaurant's page shows a photo and bio of the host or hostess and links to location-specific MySpace and Facebook pages. Graphics are customized - palm trees for waterfront locales, skyscrapers for city restaurants.
The site makes "a really big statement" that each restaurant in a chain should control its own virtual image, says Mark Unger, partner and creative director at Orlando-based Push, the agency behind the site. A proprietary iPhone application, now in beta, will take that power a step further, allowing restaurant hosts to instantly enroll customers into Smokey Bones's loyalty program.
The Web site, built in partnership with Salt Lake City-based interactive design consultancy Welikesmall, took four months to build. Unger says the toughest part was coordinating the dozen or so applications involved.
Both the Web site and iPhone application are meant to lure young "social starters" to the chain, now repositioning from a barbecue concept into more of a bar-and-grill. "Their media habits revolve around social networking," says Pete Bell, vice president of marketing for the Smokey Bones chain