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Very Tempting: The Masterful Design of Memo NYC

Written by in Collections, Color & Texture, Create, Design, Features

Hello? A Ketchup & Mustard Typeface!?

Who thought that up? 

Meet Douglas Riccardi & Memo Productions, NYC.

“Food brings people together, it fuels discussion. It is at the dining table where ideas are shared, history is made, and culture is exchanged. Until there is an app that can provide human nutrition, there will be a need for design around food and restaurants.” — Douglas Riccardi, Memo Productions, NYC.

This story was going to be so, so, so cerebral. So sophisticated. So New York. Not anymore. Douglas Riccardi had me at the HELLO sign. Who is the genius who came up with the mustard and ketchup typeface seen on the sign above? Fun! Riccardi likes to keep creative expression simple — in type design, menu design, burger wrap design, crawfish wrap design. He is among the elite in restaurant branding and design. In a city of nonstop sensory bombardment and restaurant overload, a ketchup and mustard font will arrest attention and sell a lot of burgers. Let his work tell his story.

Host’s Touch

“Douglas Riccardi is a body and mind in constant motion. He moves about in his entirely unpretentious, poster-filled design studio with  purpose. Even when he’s seated you can feel his energy. It’s infectious. It’s exciting. It’s inspiring. He has an idea and he’s ready to share it. He infuses every design with a sense of hospitality. It is as though he is saying, ‘Take a seat. Let me pour you some tea. Let’s talk.'” — Jennifer Rittner, Design Journalist

Memo for SCHNIPPERS

Originators of the “Thunder Bun,” Schnippers serves up the quintessential American Standards. Memo has worked with Schnippers since its opening to create the branding, collateral and environmental graphics for five locations. The vibe: classic Americana. The mood: super casual. The experience: 100% fun. This Schnippers’ self-description: “We serve good old-fashioned American food for New Yorkers and travelers alike. We don’t do fusion or foreign. We think happy is healthy. We think low stress is as important as low fat, and high quality can be just as important as organic. While we respect places that serve precious, fussy food, we never wanted to be one of them.”  The team at Memo nailed it.

Memo for URBANSPACE

Memo uses printed paper for impact. While designing large urban restaurant and market experiences, Riccardi never forgets that many want to hold a thing in their hands. Like a newspaper! Urbanspace is the company behind many of NY’s most creative public markets, both pop-up and permanent. Memo has served Urbanspace as creative consultant since the client opened its first permanent food hall on Vanderbilt Avenue at Grand Central Station.

Memo for BÄCOSHOP

Bacon tacos? Sign me up. Or am I misunderstanding the name? Never mind. I want to go here. Here is Memo’s brand identity for this fast-casual restaurant in Culver City and LA chef Josef Centeno. Says Riccardi, “Brand storytelling should achieve one of two goals: either to transport customers to a time and place or to create an emotional frame of mind for them. For BäcoShop we tried to do both: We wanted to bring customers to a strange, exotic land, while at the same time encouraging them to relax and unwind through an approachable, clean and thoroughly modern experience.”

Memo for GUMBO BROS

Louisiana natives Clay Boulware, head of operations, and fellow LSU grad and Alabama native Adam Nathan, director of cuisine, brought their talents (and roux) to Brooklyn with Gumbo Bros. Their mission: “Bridge the gumbo gap in NYC.” Gumbo Bros offer patrons “a big-ass bowl of Southern comfort” and the “Cajun Holy Trinity”: celery, onion and pepper. Gumbo Bros hired Memo to upgrade its collateral and promotional materials and dine-in experience.  The menus are suitable for framing — and crawfish shells.

Memo for MARIO BATALI

“Douglas Riccardi has worked with an impressive array of culinary exceptionalists,” says designer Jennifer Rittner. “In the same way Mario Batali effortlessly combines everyday ingredients to create a culinary masterpiece, Douglas obsesses over the precise mix of design ‘ingredients’ to make his ideas come alive.” Is there an Italian restaurant concept Mario Batali has not unleashed on America? Pizza? Beer bar? Squisiti Dolce? “Check, check, check, check, please!” Memo has worked with Mario Batali since the renowned chef and entrepreneur operated from a tiny restaurant on Cornelia Street in New York. Memo has collaborated with Batali on more than 10 cookbooks as well as identities and print for some of Batali’s most acclaimed restaurants. Below a sample. Buon gusto! 

Memo for Batali’s Tarry Market Concept

Memo for Batali’s CarneVino, Birreria, Pizzeria and Mozza Concepts & Batali cookbooks

Memo for Batali’s San Marco Concept, Serving “Squisiti Dolce”

Memo for EVERYONE

Riccardi and the work of his team at Memo are irresistible. As purveyors of fine paper, restaurant design is a major source of our business and we love to celebrate the best of it. Memo is among the best at it, creating reasons to put it in print — and carry it home. Enjoy.

Memo Mindspace

Recently, a friend asked Riccardi why he’s determined to focus on the restaurant industry. Italian by birth, he says food culture is in his blood: “Food brings people together, it fuels discussion. It is at the dining table where ideas are shared, history is made, and culture is exchanged. Until there is an app that can provide human nutrition, there will be a need for design around food and restaurants.”

Team Memo: Left, Eric Park, intern. Center: Douglas Riccardi, founder and principal designer. Right (pointing to Douglas): Brendan McAuliffe, senior designer

  1. 09
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    03
    4:58pm

    This is such a fun and spirited article. A total pleasure to read. And I love seeing Douglas’ beautiful work highlighted in this way.

  2. 09
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    05
    6:05pm

    Can’t even begin to tell you how happy this article makes me. Thanks Matt for putting “it” all together in this way —

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    11:39am
    Neil MacLean said:

    You captured the genius of Douglas and Memo! Well done! Douglas – this really makes me miss working there :)

  4. 09
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    06
    4:03pm

    I’m going to have the students in my restaurant design class read this post as an assignment! They are learning about restaurant design psychology and these are terrific examples of how to create a great visual experience.

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    4:17pm
    Joanne Ricci said:

    Love this article! Douglas is one of the most talented, inspiring, and generous people we’ve had the good fortune to work with. He and Memo are just the BEST!!

  6. 09
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    6:06pm

    My kids went to Schnipper’s with my husband. When they got home, all they could talk about was the sign. They said, “Mom, the sign is made of ketchup and mustard BOTTLES! BOTTLES, Mom!”

  7. 09
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    8:46pm
    Matt Porter said:

    Dear Ms. Steichen: Your kids know unique when they see it. When they are of age, ask Douglas to take them in as summer interns. Burgers are free. Best, matt porter

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    10:54am
    justine clay said:

    Seeing all of Memo’s uniquely playful, thoughtful, and cultural impactful work in one place is such a treat! With an incredible eye, years of experience and expertise, and an innate feel for all things food, Douglas Riccardi is the creative visionary that every chef, restaurant owner, and culinary entrepreneur needs in their corner!

  9. 09
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    5:13pm
    Alexander Brebner said:

    Finally Memo gets its due as one of the smartest firms out there. Mangia!

  10. 09
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    25
    3:24pm

    Brilliant article. Tells it as it is. Douglas is genius, hilariously genius.
    After working together for decades my tongue is now stuck in my cheek.

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    11:59am

    Wonderful article! Memo’s work is pure brilliance. I am so very grateful that Douglas shares his expertise with our students. He’s not just brilliant… he is also a witty and generous mentor!