Extra Helping of PR

25 10 2010

It has been said there is no such thing as bad PR. Whenever anyone says anything about you in the public domain, it is priceless communication of your brand and who you are. Even if it’s bad. To begin to pay (as in advertise) for what one gets freely (via PR) would be cost prohibitive.

A local case in point is The Big Texan, Amarillo’s claim to gustatory fame. Their free 72oz. steak has been their calling card for decades, and media wags from around the world have made the journey to that faux old west barroom to chronicle this feast of flesh. No one really cares if the subject actually finishes it. It’s just the shock value of having all that meat and fixins covering the table in front of you.

Yeah, it makes for great TV and journalism.

Anymore it seems that for a restaurant to catapult a few levels skyward, it needs to get lucky and score some PR. With all the travel and death-defying food shows now airing, sooner or later some host is bound to land in your dining room with a film crew. And when they do, you’d better be ready to milk this cow for all it’s worth.

Kind of like the folks at Hash House A Go Go have done. I had the pleasure of dining at their west Las Vegas store this last weekend (they have 2 more shops in LV, plus the original in San Diego). Featured on the Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food, Hash House is about ginormous portions of “twisted farm food” and putting a new face on traditional dining.

How’s that again?

One of the founding partners hails from Indiana (a place near and dear to my Midwest heart), where he adored the local down-to-earth cuisine. Hash House focuses on down-home menu items, but with a little more west coast flair and presentation than country fried graviness (yeah, I just made that up). Oh yeah, and did I mention the servings are as big as the desert is hot? (Check out this FB pic to see for yourself.)

Starting out with just breakfast and lunch, Hash House now serves three squares daily. With big-city-moderate pricing (most meals are $15-20), you are pretty much guaranteed to be toting a bag of leftovers. The meatloaf and eggs Benedict my former boss had would have been enough for all 6 of us. And I barely made it through my veggie plate (fried green tomatoes, butternut squash, corn-in-the-husk, asparagus and carrots). I heard tell of 14-inch diameter pancakes and “house hashes” on the breakfast menu that could carry a hungry farmer all the way through till supper (yeah, the evening meal is called “supper” in Indiana).

The food alone is enough to ensure Hash House’s success, but a huge push from cable TV is all was needed to launch them into gastronomic orbit. Toss in a New York Times article and a media hit list as long as my arm, and you have all the necessary ingredients for good old fashioned buzz.

Which is pretty much what I was feeling as I walked out of the place and headed back down to the Strip. That, and maybe the need for a good long nap.

Dr “Waist…Not!” Gerlich

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