Located in North Aurora, Illinois, the owners of Hardware restaurant describe their establishment as a “sustainable gastropub and brewery, complete with greenhouse and organic hop farm.” We have been delighted to work with Hardware to develop and produce a variety of custom products that help them communicate about the variety of unique offerings available there. From menus and flight cards to keg wraps, keg toppers and tap handle labels, and more. The Label Printers’ design and production teams have applied our expertise to help Hardware and its owners, BBGB Restaurant Group, project an image consistent with the Hardware experience.
From the moment you pass the two acre BBGB Hop Farm adjacent to the parking area, it is apparent that Hardware is someplace different. Whether you next notice the “live wall” on the front of the building, or the greenhouse attached to one of the dining areas, or maybe the aromas from the on-site smoker, there is an abundance of cues that the people running this place pay attention to the details. Special attention is paid to those details that impact the environment and that affect the quality of what will be served.
Once inside, you’ll probably learn from your server that the hop farm supplies their brewing operation, or that the “live wall” has many environmental benefits, including helping to reduce the need for cooling and heating the building. You also might learn how the produce growing in the greenhouse (supplemented by more growing space on a nearby farm) becomes part of your meal. Be sure, too, to ask about how the wood planking in the interior got its unique finish or about how they got that massive stone at the corner of the bar into the building. The stories about the many steel fixtures and artifacts to be found all throughout the place are fascinating, as well.
The food and beverage part of the experience is equally special. Order the hot dog! Just don’t expect freezer case flavors, fast food buns, or ketchup pouches. This one starts with a sausage filled with in-house-smoked brisket. It’s served on a fresh poppy seed bun, and topped with pickled chilies and other delectables. The expansive menu includes seafood (think fish and chips made with sushi grade swordfish), meats, chicken, salads, unexpected delights like an amazing Korean Pork bowl, an array of charcuterie, and too much more to mention. The house made craft brews are developing a well-deserved reputation of their own in a market rich with variety and quality. Meanwhile, in addition to a full range of beers, wines and spirts, the bar offers over 350 different whiskeys with new selections being added regularly.
The care and thought that Hardware’s management puts into everything that they do is inspiring to us. We respect their commitment to their business and their mastery of so many fields that touch their core business. They could simply do a good job with the food and drink and leave it at that. They don’t. Instead, they seek out knowledge, they make an extra effort, and they create an experience that is richer and more satisfying to the guest than that experience would be if “good enough” were good enough for them.
We like to put a similar level of care and commitment into the work that we do. We have worked with the Hardware team to create each of the custom pieces that we produce for them. We are mindful of the setting in which the products are to be used and we listen intently as each piece’s purpose is explained to us. When we visit Hardware, we enjoy the experience in the way other guests do, maybe enhanced a bit through our knowledge that we have contributed, even slightly, to achieving Hardware’s objective of providing a special experience for every guest.
The work that we have done for Hardware can be found throughout their operation. It includes:
- Keg Wraps, Labels and Toppers – We produced kits including a wrap, several labels and a topper for each keg. The wrap encircles the middle of the keg, bearing the Hardware branding and contact details. The labels bear the BBGB branding. The toppers are made to fit snugly around the tap opening in the top of each keg. Toppers carry specific information about the contents of the keg, plus the information required to maintain regulatory compliance. Together, the pieces in each kit communicate essential information and provide a distinctive look for the kegs, which fits into Hardware’s overall branding strategy.
- Tap Labels – The taps at Hardware’s bars are adorned with custom made handles made from children’s building blocks, the type with letters on each face. The blocks in each handle display the letters “BBGB” - the name of the restaurant group that owns Hardware. Rather than changing handles each time they tap another of their brews, Hardware simply changes a label affixed to the tap handle. Using a durable material that has a special adhesive to allow removal without leaving messy residue, we print labels with the names of each beer that they brew in-house. The result is a tap system that looks great and is very easy to manage.
- Menus and Flight Cards – No restaurant experience is complete without a good-looking menu. The best menus don’t just inform the diner of the available food choices. They also convey images and additional information to provide a sense of the place and of the people there. Hardware accomplishes that with its menus and then goes a step further with “flight cards”. The cards present information about the spirits that are included in flights they offer to give their guests an opportunity to experience some of the vast selection of whiskeys they serve.
Check out Hardware sometime for yourself. When you do, have a look at the backs of a few menus. Hardware had a special vision for those. They came out looking awesome - even if we do say so ourselves.