The Challenge

Root Down leased a former vintage service station in an area of Denver that was just beginning its renaissance.  The building was located in a remote corner of the neighborhood that was unfamiliar to many and mainly residential, surrounded by several older homes. Our mission was two-fold: to attract diners to Lower Highland, an up-and-coming neighborhood at the time that had very little buzz and to convince consumers and the media that Denver was ready to support a sustainable, vegetarian-friendly restaurant.

The Solution

Tapping our long history in Lower Highland and our deep connections in the neighborhood, The Stasko Agency took several steps to get Root Down noticed and to generate interest in LoHi.

  • Counseled Root Down chef and owner Justin Cucci about the possible pitfalls of marketing the restaurant as vegetarian-only.  Instead, we coined the term globally-inspired, seasonal cuisine to describe the menu, allowing Cucci to broaden his offerings to include locally-sourced, sustainable meat and poultry.
  • Conducted media tours of the restaurant during build out phase – to familiarize them with the area and explain Root Down’s unique, sustainable features.
  • Developed a detailed media kit that included a fact sheet, key bios and photos highlighting the restaurant’s eye-catching food and interior.
  • Wrote a series of news releases and distributed a variety of pitches to the media prior to the opening to slowly introduce the concept, the location, and sustainable features to look once the restaurant was completed.
  • Orchestrated a preview and menu tasting for neighborhood residents to raise awareness and build goodwill and potential loyalty for Root Down. Neighbors were invited to come and taste as much of the menu as possible and to provide feedback, which proved instrumental in the creation of the opening menu.
  • Hosted a media night and other private events to introduce Root Down to influential audiences such as hotel concierges, event planners, and school faculty.
  • Continued to keep the media informed after the restaurant’s opening about Root Down’s rotating menu and new sustainable features.

The Results

  • Established Root Down as a quality and creative eatery and Justin Cucci as a pioneering restauranteur worth supporting. Despite the introduction of many competitors, Root Down has maintained a strong following in LoHi since 2008. The restaurant’s success has enabled Cucci to expand his restaurant empire, with two more concepts in LoHi (Linger and El Five) and three others restaurants in Denver (Root Down DIA, Ophellia’s, and Vital Root).
  • Secured media placements in every local food and design magazine as well as mainstream media – including 5280 Magazine, Denver Life, Colorado Expressions, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, 303 Magazine, Denver Post, Denver Business Journal, Spaces, Modern in Denver, the Everday Show on Fox31, Channel 9, Channel 7, Vista TV, and the Gabby Gourmet Radio Show.
  • Root Down won several culinary challenges and awards such as the First Annual Summer Solstice Appetizer Challenge, just a few short months after opening.
  • The restaurant was named 2008 Winner of the Mayor’s Design Awards for Design Excellence.