Public School 612 is a gastropub concept located in Downtown Los Angeles that opened in March, 2011. The brainchild of Bob Spivak, CEO of Grill Concepts, the idea was to redesign the bar of the existing Daily Grill, still serving the Daily Grill menu at lunch and then transforming the space into Public School 612 at 4pm. Public School 612 was designed to target the 25-35 year old demographic, positioning itself in the market as a hip place to hang out after work or late night. The concept boasted 20 craft beers from around the world on draught and 20 more in bottles and cans, along with an eclectic, chef driven menu.
The original name for the gastropub was simply “the bar”. Terri Henry, when in the employment of Grill Concepts, suggested that “the bar” was simply too generic, and the operations team would not be able to monitor primarily social media mentions and hits, and we came up with the name “Public School” – the 612 is the street address of the restaurant: 612 S. Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles. The thought was that with the name change we could get creative with menu, collateral, messaging, etc. The architect took this direction and the initial design evolved into an “industrial meets old school” interior.
The tagline “An Education in the Art of Food and Beer.” was developed, along with a “composition book” style menu.
Short video vignettes were filmed and edited in-house using a user friendly flip-cam type camera and simple editing software, featuring casual chats with Hallie Beaune, a beer consultant that was initially contracted for the concept as a temporary assignment, and Phil Kastel, the executive chef that developed the menu. These videos were placed on YouTube, then linked to a developed QR code, that when scanned with a SmartPhone would go straight to the video. A second QR code was developed that when scanned went straight to the Public School 612 website’s “Join our email list”, to add to the database enabling us to communicate regularly to this guest.
Other school type elements included a ruled paper lined napkin and a silverware band printed with a ruler image. The challenge was to carry the school theme through just enough of the elements without going over the top and becoming “kitschy”.
The choice of uniforms was especially important, due to the fact that our team members would be the same young demographic as our target market. We had athletic department type t-shirts and baseball sleeves designed and printed on American Apparel brand shirts. They were embraced by both the young men and young women staff.
Two months into opening, we introduced a series of Night School events, promoting beer and spirits education. We reached out to our liquor vendors for their experts to come and facilitate a 1-1/2 hour event on slow night twice a month, and also took advantage of the expertise in our own team members and let them get involved in teaching the classes. These were promoted through posters, eblasts and press releases, and continue to be very popular and widely attended.
Four months after opening we had a professional video produced, and distributed it on the website and social media. The video also accompanies press releases, and can be used to entice future landlords or potential investors.
Seven months after opening a happy hour (aka Recess) was introduced. Complimentary happy hour appetizer certificates were designed and produced and distributed to local businesses.
As of 2013, the Public School gastropub concept has grown to three units, also opening in Culver City and and Woodland Hills, CA. www.publicschool612.com