In the most recent issue of Philadelphia Magazine, <a href=””]]>Trey Popp reviews Morgan’s Pier, a riverside restaurant on Penn’s Landing. Chef George Sabatino opened a delightful sounding place that’s doing good food with great views just below the Ben Franklin Bridge. Here’s Popp’s money quote: “George Sabatino’s $30 three-course menu was bludgeoned with PBR cans by a mob of 25-year-old frat bros, stabbed in 16 places by five-inch stilettos, and finally trampled to death in a midnight stampede to the on-site hot-dog cart.” Looks like the DudeBros have taken over, and Sabatino is struggling to reconcile the type of restaurant he wants to run and the type of restaurant the clientele is asking for. If I didn’t know anything about that area, Popp’s review would suggest to me that the DudeBros magically appeared – that before the restaurant existed, the area was filled with discerning diners looking for a quiet place to eat their 3-course dinner and then poof! Dudebros! But I, and anyone who has ever been to the Plough and the Stars on a Saturday night, do know better, and it sheds light on a very common branding problem: what comes first, me or them? (A brief interlude: I don’t know anything about Morgan’s Pier’s financials, George Sabatino, or, really, much else. I enjoyed the article and Morgan’s Pier looked like a great place that provided a good sight unseen teachable moment, but they could be sleeping on a bed of money for all I know. So take my uninformed extrapolation of the review as I intend it: a case study that we can grab some branding lessons from even if the truth isn’t exactly how I percieve it to be here.) 2nd street and the neighboring streets down in Old City is the land of the untucked button-down, the ultra-high heel, and the Jager. And God love ‘em! They’re an important part of Philadelphia, and they’re oftentimes the most real people you’re ever going to meet. But I’m not a part of that clan, and it doesn’t sound like Sabatino (or Popp for that matter) are either. And that area has been like that since I first stepped into the Plough in my early 20’s. Sure, Amada’s closeby, but it’s on Chestnut Street, run by an Iron Chef, and might as well be miles away from the late night epicenter on 2nd street. A restaurant close to Cuba Libre, Plough, and the like needs to cater to their crowds, and that crowd on Friday and Saturday night isn’t looking for laid-back, 3-course meals. So, what to do? How can we brand our way out of this? The first step is acceptance. This is your crowd. Embrace them! From the article: “Sabatino is still trying to do right by both contingents: french fries from scratch, kale and aged cheddar croquettes, and some parts of the chef’s menu offered à la carte. But they were hit-and-miss on a crowded Sunday, even though service to the picnic tables was super-swift.” Sounds like a decent start, but perhaps too middle-of-the-road. A quick perusal of the <a href=””>menu</a> suggests that as well. If they’re high-tailing it for the hot dog cart as the review suggests, make a more indulgent, better-cooked, better-prepared hot dog (or, better yet, a corn dog. I’d eat my shoe right now If I can have a good corn dog afterwards.). If they like their PBR (and, honestly, who doesn’t), make a PBR battered dish (PBR battered Corn Dogs!) and package it with three cans on ice. I’d buy that. So would the DudeBros. But I’m not sure they’re itching for Kale and Romesco Cheese Croquettes as much as I am. As Jon pointed out when we were talking about this problem, you don’t have the luxury (as Marc Vetri did with Osteria) of creating the scenery. The scenery, chest hair and all, is provided for you. The best thing you can do is provide for it. It’s the very rarest occurrence that the “If you build it they will come” approach yields a success. Most often, it’s the direct opposite. We’ve seen many a business struggle and utimately fail to win over a particular crowd, and we’ve seen many a business succeed when they allow themselves to be won over by the same crowd. So for you, the business owner trying to do best for your customers, embrace them. Find what they like and give it to them the best way you know how. As for me, I’m going to grab Jon and a few of the DudeBros in our circle and take them to dinner on the river. While the cuisine might not be exactly haute, it’ll definitely be fun, and in Old City, isn’t that all that matters?]]&gt;</p>