André Vener of Dog Haus on Effective Branding Strategy
Interview with Dog Haus partner and co-founder André Vener about launching successful modern restaurant brands, thinking outside the box, franchising, and scaling with ghost kitchens.
Takeaways from this episode:
Branding is Everything — André Vener and his Dog Haus partners have done an excellent job of making Dog Haus a household name. They have accomplished that by staying true to who they are presenting themselves as such every single time you see them.
Hospitality Outside of the Box — Dog Haus has over half of their customer base off-premise. Therefore, to deliver high-quality hospitality on a consistent basis, Andre Vener and his partners had to get creative so that the service is both excellent and able to be replicated.
Innovative Pivots — Like many in the restaurant and hospitality industry, the uncertainty of the Pandemic was terrifying. After moments of fear, however, the Dog Haus company strategized and implemented a way to actually increase revenue in 2020.
André Vener helped create a household name in Dog Haus with a dynamic approach to classic food choices.
Hot dogs have carved out an indelible place as a classic food choice from all walks of life. Typically relegated to backyard grills and stadiums, André Vener and co-founders Hagop Giragossian and Quasim Riaz have used stadium cuisine as the foundation for an elevated culinary experience.
It seemed Dog Haus was destined for greatness from the start, as their first venue placement was in the vaunted Rose Bowl in Dog Haus' hometown of Pasadena, California.
"The first venue that we went into officially with Dog Haus was the Rose Bowl." the entrepreneur and restaurateur tells Restaurant Influencers podcast host Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "They never had an outside food vendor have a brick and mortar inside there. They called us up and said, hey, you're the hometown heroes. We'd love to have you here."
Why Hot Dogs?
Growing up in Germany, André Vener spent his adolescent days dreaming of one day operating a hot dog stand. After beginning his career in corporate hospitality, he wanted to do more of what he enjoyed.
André Vener and his colleagues started Dog Haus to have fun and bring something that they loved to the world: quality food and a great atmosphere.
The top-tier food takes time. Dog Haus customers understand that. Everything in Dog Haus from the hot dogs to the burgers, which Vener has labeled their "secret weapon", is handmade to order. Along with factors such as great customer service and tasty food, patrons of Dog Haus enjoy that the brand has stuck to its founding pillar principle of having fun.
"Hot dogs back in the day were always like the cheap, leftover kind of meat. We wanted to have the gold standard of what a hot dog would be." André Vener explains. "We created this brand and put all the best ingredients and try to have some fun with it."
Though fans had grown accustomed to stopping into Dog Haus for a Reservoir Hog sausage or a Chili Idol hot dog. Vener and crew, like many others, had to find a way to survive during the uncertainty of the Pandemic in 2020.
After the initial panic wore off, the crew went to work on launching five new brands out of one kitchen and made them available for Ghost Kitchen menus: Badass Breakfast Burritos, Bad Mutha Clucka, Plant B Impossible Shop, Big Belly Burgers, and Jailbird Wings.
The success was astronomical.
Accelerated growth is not a new concept to Dog Haus. Just 18 month after its initial opening in 2011, the restaurant company had already expanded to three locations. Now with Ghost Kitchen extension, dozens of locations and more opening soon, Vener, Giragossian, Riaz, along with Wurstmaster, Adam Gertler, Dog Haus and their proprietary recipes are set to reach even higher heights. Partnerships with LiveNation and Michael Montagna from Kitchen United are helping push the brand forward in astronomical ways.
"Branding is everything," André Vener says. "I think you first got to know your brand and put all of your attention to figure out who you are and just brand, brand, brand."
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