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A rustic frame displaying the Rifrullo logo next to a old watering can

RIFRULLO

Project Duration: January 2017–June 2017
Studio Services: Branding // Print Design // Website Design

Rifrullo is a small cafe in the heart of Brookline with a beautifully large mission. Founded in 2013 by head chef Colleen Suhanofsky, her vision was to create a small neighborhood restaurant which could bring people together with delicious food. Her background as a chef for some of the most high-end restaurants in New York City has helped propel this mission forward, with a meticulous attention to flavors, fine ingredients, and customer satisfaction.

When Rifrullo engaged with Santoro Design in early 2017, the goal was to help modernize the restaurant’s brand with a brand new look-and-feel; one that truly reflected its roots as a culinary gem in the community. Through our explorations, we created a brand identity that highlights their dedication to hearty, rustic cuisine with a European flair.

A barista pouring latte art into a cappucino mug
An array of freshly baked bread

BRAND STRATEGY

From the moment we walk into a restaurant, we begin “eating” with our eyes; the smells, the layout of space, the furniture, the colors. Everything about the customer experience is crucial to understanding what a restaurant is all about. Upon first looking at the initial branding, we felt that it had some rustic charm, but was also too complex a form for modern design standards. That, and the brand identity itself was disjointed; in no way indicative of the beautifully delicious food they put out every day. In our first conversations with Rifrullo, we got a sense of their background story and their mission. We felt that the design needed to be minimalistic, but also speak to the European influences in their food. Moodboard exercises pointed towards taking inspiration from Parisian cafes and boulangeries, with their use of minimal and expressive typography juxtaposed with rustic illustrations.

A platter of fries and ketchup served on a cutting board on a table top

BRAND IDENTITY

In designing the logo family, we explored iterations inspired by restaurant & cafe signage; both hand-lettered and styled typography. What resulted was a logo family based on a custom wordmark and a stylized “R + ladle” mark; one that would be essential for smaller contexts like their social media or embroidered chef jackets. By juxtaposing the clean wordmark with the rustic pot illustration, we created a post-modern, primary lockup that communicated that elevated neighborhood cuisine message.

With an expressive logo family and the use of detailed illustrations, we felt that the typography needed to act more as function rather than form. A pairing of sans-serif and serif typefaces guaranteed solid legibility while expressing a classic feel. Color inspired by food photography and minimal European design fueled the color palette. From there, we pushed all forms of the brand expression with an expanded suite of illustrations and beautiful photography.

The old Rifrullo logo with a yellow duck and the name 'Rifrullo' in it
The new Rifrullo logo with the mark underneath it
The Rifrullo logo with the name 'Rifrullo' on top of a yellow pot
The Rifrullo mark with a stylized 'R' in a circle
The Rifrullo wordmark in hand-lettered style
A white mug with the Rifrullo logo on it

Brand Implementation

With business stationery designed and in place, we moved on to the restaurant essentials: menus and interior/exterior signage.

Because they update their menus frequently due to seasonal ingredients, we created the menu design based off of a simple grid layout. For easy updating while keeping design integrity, we utilized a platform called LucidPress; allowing them to quickly make changes and print when needed. Name-card templates for pastries were created and also uploaded to LucidPress. Vinyl applications were designed for the exterior windows, along with the installation of a new hanging sign made of laser-engraved maple wood.

Business stationery with the Rifrullo branding next to a chef knife and carrot
A close crop of white business cards with Rifrullo branding on them
A white mug and business cards with Rifrullo branding on them
The front and back of a menu with Rifrullo branding on top of a wooden table
A booklet with the Rifrullo logo between a baker's hands
An open booklet spread with a table of contents
A mockup of a restaurant exterior with Rifrullo branding

WEBSITE DESIGN

What makes a restaurant website successful? Is it beautifully showcasing the restaurant’s food? Or is it making the information prospects need easily accessible? All of those questions were on the table when approaching the pitch for a new Rifrullo web presence. From multiple pages to a 3 page microsite, our goals were to streamline the prospect’s ability to view the full menu and submit an inquiry for catering, while creating a fully-responsive website that felt like you’d just walked into the cafe.

A laptop displaying the Rifrullo website next to a coffee cup
Screens of the Rifrullo website laid across a wooden table surface
A hand holding a smartphone displaying the Rifrullo mobile website
Hands kneading dough on top of a dark wood surface
“For any small business, differentiation is a key challenge. As a food-focused cafe, we aim to have excellent product; but we also know that our brand identity is critical to attracting and engaging customers. The brand identity and guidelines that Santoro Design delivered us were not only visually stunning and comprehensive - they were a thoughtful and emotional translation of our values. We couldn’t be happier with the results.” Adam Graves, Partner

CONCLUSION

Believe it or not, the word “Rifrullo” in Florentine Italian actually means “social hub.” For being around for several years, Rifrullo has truly lived up to its name in glorious fashion. With a warm, inviting atmosphere, delicious food and beautifully-crafted coffee beverages, you’ll be wanting to return there time and time again. As fans of Rifrullo ourselves, we couldn’t be more proud of them and the work we’ve accomplished together.

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