Case Study

Heathman Hotel

Portland, OR

About the Project

Many of our clients desire the added level of assurance and security they receive when they test market their restaurant concept with their target audience. At The Gilkey Restaurant Consulting Group (TGRCG) we specialize in conducting quantitative and qualitative market research in a given locale. For all restaurant entrepreneurs opening a new restaurant concept requires a significant investment of time and money. Getting a peek into the psyche and purchasing preferences of their target audience can add that level of confidence to their creative instincts.

The Challenge

The Heathman Hotel located in Kirkland Washington is one of those clients. Before investing heavily in the branding, design, and buildout of their new restaurant concept they wanted to test market restaurant concepts with their target audience.

Our Solution

The Gilkey Restaurant Consulting Group offers three forms of quantitative and qualitative market research for our clients. Phase one is to test the consumers’ likelihood to become regular users of your new concept given its brand strategy in your specific market. This research occurs through on-line surveys as well as virtual focus groups. For most projects we prefer conducting a minimum of 300 consumer intercepts to survey preferences. Conducting 300 intercepts provides a 95% level of confidence and reliability of the response within 5 percentage points. In some cases, there may be 3 or more concepts the owner is considering and through research we will test one against the other to determine the local communities’ preferences for each.

Phase two, TGRCG will travel to the preferred location and validates the business plan and feasibility
study assumptions through observation of the concept’s competitors. Observing direct competitors’
business patterns and pricing validates assumptions. This secondary level of research includes observing
traffic patterns and spending habits of similar concepts the location. This boots-on-the-ground research
reveals firsthand observations regarding levels of demand, check average, popular menu offerings and
other key business factors influencing the business’s performance.

Phase three, TGRCG sources the tax returns and annual revenues reported by direct competitors, folding
this data into the final report, providing an additional level of confidence. These three methods of
collecting empirical and boots-on-the-ground research provides high levels of confidence when
forecasting performance and minimizing risk for the investor. The deliverable of this research is a
comprehensive evaluation of the likelihood to achieve forecasted revenue projections given consumer
feedback and analysis of competitor performance.

We presented these options to the ownership of the Heathman Hotel and they selected phase one and
two research strategies for testing their new restaurant concept.

Services Provided

We then created our survey questions to include the target audiences’ favorite restaurants to visit, their preferred concepts, name preferences, menu preferences, uniform preferences and more. As it relates to proposed restaurant concepts, we asked the respondents to select from the list of descriptions below.

Introducing a new Steakhouse restaurant at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington

This restaurant specializes in steaks. Each steak is rubbed with our distinctive seasoning blend and cooked to order in temperatures reaching 1800 degrees. This cooking method quickly sears the exterior of the steak sealing in the steak’s natural juices. Also available on the menu is a variety of fresh seafood, roasted pork and chicken, and chophouse styled salads featuring only organic ingredients. All desserts are house made, rich, and flavorful.

As you enter the dining room, wood paneled walls and ceilings immediately transport you to the familiar great steakhouses of the 1940’s. Cozy leather booths and soft stone tabletops provide comfort as you enjoy the familiar tunes of Sinatra, Bennett, and Streisand. This restaurant is unique because it is unmistakably a serious steakhouse, but without the formality. The service staff is dressed in colorful vests and ties, long sleeve white button-down shirts, and full-length tie down white aprons, are very friendly and helpful, as you would expect in Kirkland. This is a great steakhouse without the ritual.

The wine list showcases a virtual tour of the some of the greatest wineries, estates, and domains in the world. This restaurant represents “the good things in life” that I can share with my friends and family.

Introducing a new American Bistro restaurant at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington

This restaurant specializes in preparing locally grown northwest foods with bold flavors. You love the menu selections because the ingredients are fresh and healthy for the body. Our Chef makes use of classical European Bistro cooking techniques to prepare regionally fresh ingredients available in the market today. Menu items such as: Grilled Copper River King Salmon with artichoke pesto, wild mushrooms, and polenta; and Roasted Pork Loin with grilled asparagus wrapped in Proscuitto and crispy onions and mustard flavored pork jus; and Roasted Kobe beef tenderloin with jumbo stuffed mushrooms and onions, smashed fingerling potatoes, watercress and beef jus.

The soothing American woods, colorful paints, décor accessories, and locally blown glass light fixtures create a warm glow throughout the dining room. I love the large colorful fresh cut flower arrangement centerpiece and the captivating chandeliers. The contemporary music adds to the hustle and bustle of the service staff, and is invigorating for the guest.

The wine list offers the best Washington, California, and Europe has to offer. A large selection of local micro brews match the many appetizer options available. I love this restaurant because it’s always fresh, vibrant, and fun!

Introducing a new Mediterranean Bistro restaurant at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington

This restaurant will transport you to that energetic bistro you remember visiting while traveling through Europe. I love sampling the bold flavors of the Mediterranean. The aroma of fresh roasted peppers, squashes, and onions marinated in fruity olive oils, and garlic remind me of this ancient cuisine. Tagliatelle with imported tomatoes, beef Bolognese, mushrooms and reggiano Parmagiana; Fresh northwest clams, mussels, and spot prawns poached in saffron scented bouillabaisse with toasted garlic croutons; and fresh grilled Alaskan Halibut boldly seasoned with Moroccan spices, roasted red pepper sauce and Tuscan white beans are some of my favorites.

The warm marbles slabs, gentle stucco columns, brightly colored paintings, and rich woods remind me of that exotic downtown bistro in Rome we love. The music is uniquely European and the blown glass chandeliers are wonderful. The wine list includes the best the Mediterranean has to offer.

Introducing a new French Bistro restaurant at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington

This restaurant will transport you to the animated Parisian Bistro nestled just down the boulevard from the Pantheon. The Chef artfully combines the best of French and Northwest cuisines to create bistro classics and daily specials, featuring the best seasonal products available. Selections such as; Sweet Walla-Walla French onion soup topped with golden Emanthaler Swiss, Dungeness crab salad with sweet mango, avocado, and fresh orange vinaigrette, and Braised Beef Tenderloin with celery root puree, French beans, apple bacon, and raisin peppercorn sauce are some of the stars. The distinct aromas from the fresh Parisian pastries and house baked baguettes fill the dining room. And save room for the house specialty warm chocolate soufflé with vanilla cream.

A collection of pastel paints, prints, and colored glass create a festive mood. An excellent selection of classic French burgundy and Bordeaux’s are available to compliment the California and Washington wines.

Once the data was collected and analyzed, the local community preferred the French Bistro and choose Trellis as its name. And we are pleased to report the creation of Trellis was the result of our research and Trellis enjoys great success and popularity to this day 14 years later.