Gongfu Bao is a culinary and community hot-spot in Ottawa that makes bao using traditional techniques. Gongfu started as a food cart and transformed into a brick and mortar restaurant in 2018. Evolving and refining the original Gongfu visual and brand strategy for the new context, Jackpine contributed logo design, interior design, signage, and a successful IndieGoGo campaign.
You know that Bruce Lee quote about fearing the opponent who’s practiced one kick 10,000 times? That’s what making good bao is about: mastery. The Gongfu logo, a line-drawn icon of a hand passing a bao to a customer, expresses the kind of quiet confidence, finesse and subtle simplicity that only comes with practice and hard-won mastery of one’s craft. The icon is now an instantly recognizable part of Ottawa's urban fabric.
The Gongfu space was converted from a small shop to a fast-casual dining location with a lunch counter and takeout window. Jackpine provided spatial branding guidelines to show how the brand character could be expressed in a physical space. Nods to the casual cha chaan teng style “tea restaurants” found throughout Hong Kong give the space a welcoming feel, inviting customers in while keeping them connected to life as it passes by on the street.
To move from cart to shop, Gongfu needed funds. We created an IndieGoGo campaign with assets and a plan for the new restaurant that helped people visualize and get excited about this new Centretown hub. Gongfu’s strong community ties helped the campaign reach 121% of its target.
This project shows what great things can happen when the brand leads the interior design strategy to create a consistent customer experience. Designing the physical space around the Gongfu Bao brand—clean, efficient, confident—makes customers feel at ease, like they are literally in good hands. This is especially important during COVID when take-out and fast-casual dining dominates and a fresh, pure vibe appeals.