One of the most exciting parts of the communications professional’s job is watching clients evolve and take on new ventures! In this case, our client Gr8 Plate Hospitality, the operating group behind The Union Kitchen, Jax Grill, The Rollin’ Kitchen and the former Paul’s Kitchen, recently transformed Paul’s Kitchen into an event and banquet space called The Merrill House. Although, Paul’s Kitchen was a unique location in Houston’s food scene, owner Paul Miller saw a brighter future in turning the space into now event venue, The Merrill House. All of the characteristics of the location that were disadvantageous to a restaurant setting were perfectly suited for an event space….and voila! The Merrill House opened on March 2, 2016.
Our team’s goal was to ensure that no negative undertones surrounding the restaurant closing ensued, instead, focusing on a more positive message stirring up excitement for Gr8 Plate’s newest venture. The strategy our team developed consisted of reaching out to Houston’s top media outlets, including outreach for TV, online, print and social media coverage. After our team offered an exclusive to the online publication, CultureMap’s Eric Sandler broke the story first, covering the transition following an open and honest conversation with owner, Paul, on the morning of February 22. Did we mention that this story brought the venue 25 leads for future events at The Merrill House? Go team!
After Eric’s story ran, the team continued its local media relations efforts, distributing a press release and personalized pitches to media outlets, including Houston Business Journal, Houstonia Magazine, PaperCity Magazine and the Houston Press, all of which published stories. Television stations, KRIV Fox 26, KPRC Channel 2, KHOU 11, CW 39 and KRIV ABC 13 also received the story. All of the media stories resulted in 1,200,468 media impressions (which is PR speak for potential eyes) for the venue.
Social media was also a crucial part of our strategy. From the beginning, we knew that we did not want to lose our followers on Paul’s Kitchen’s Facebook page. Thankfully, we were able to combine the new Merrill House Facebook page (that the owner created several months prior) with the previous Paul’s Kitchen page, ensuring that we still kept the restaurant’s original base of followers, instead of starting from scratch. For the same reason we combined the two Facebook pages, we did not want to lose our followers on the other social media accounts either, so we chose to rename the Twitter and Instagram accounts from Paul’s Kitchen to The Merrill House. Not only did we use The Merrill House’s new social media channels to spread the word about the new location and its opening date, but publications such as CultureMap, Houstonia, PaperCity and more, all posted on their social media pages, as well. Food blogger, Chic Chick Meets Chic Eats also tweeted about the story to her followers. All of the social media mentions resulted in an additional 181,941 impressions! We look forward to what is in store for The Merrill House’s future and can’t wait to see amazing Houston events take place!