Best Advertising Strategy: Winona Family Restaurant

Bob Leighton
Last updated by Bob Leighton

The value and importance of small business are something Leighton Media is proud to support across all our markets. The hard working family-owned businesses that comprise our communities are just special. We resonate with these businesses and services because we're rooted in family values ourselves. We just might understand what it takes to make them tick better than others due to our heritage. 

Speaking of heritage, our next inclusion into 2017 Best of Advertising Strategy is no stranger to family values and community focus. I'd like to introduce you to Winona Family Restaurant.

A New Tactic for an Older Business 

It was a literal roadblock that led Vinny Mustafoski to Leighton Media. As the owner of Winona Family Restaurant, he'd been in business for 13 years without ever advertising on the radio. Road construction right outside the restaurant's entrance was hampering business, and Vinny needed a solution and a way to communicate with the community that the establishment was very much open during construction. Queue Leighton Media and AE Aaron Pavek.

"You can say hospitality is in his blood. Vinny's family owns nearly 50 restaurants between here [Winona] and Chicago. His restaurant had been open for 13 years, doing okay with word of mouth and drive by traffic. But when the city was under construction, he knew he needed to do something different. And that something different was a branding campaign on the radio," Aaron said.

Best of Advertising Winona Family Restaurant


The Most Interesting Campaign 

Aaron talked about the early strategy for Winona Family Restaurant and the emphasis Vinny placed on simplicity. "For him, it was about not overwhelming listeners with over the top claims or bombarding the message with too many details. He wanted to capture the attention of listeners, give them a good - but solitary - reason to visit the restaurant, and let their experience speak for itself when they did."

"We developed an idea that was a play off a well-known import beer campaign "The World's Most Interesting Man" and used that concept for Winona Family Restaurant's branding campaign. We chose a single special or idea per ad to highlight. For example:

I don't always time to grab lunch, but when I do ... it's at Winona Family Restaurant.

I don't always eat burgers on Tuesday nights, but when I do ... it's at Winona Family Restaurant for BOGO Burger Night.

Aaron added, "This caught people's attention. It pinged them in a way that's different than most forms of advertising. Simple curiosity would connect them to the restaurant from a single ad. The rest was up to Vinny and his staff."

Winona Family Restaurant's Marketing Bridge

Radio advertising only works if the business or service behind it works. What that means is, if a radio campaign is successful in getting people in the door, those people's expectations must be met. If you advertise the biggest, cleanest showroom in the biz, you better actually have the biggest, cleanest showroom to match what you're telling listeners. In radio, this is called the Marketing Bridge. It's an essential part of the overall strategy. And, it's something Winona Family Restaurant nails.

Aaron talked about what really sets the restaurant apart from competition. "They feed you so much food, it's ridiculous. The portions are huge, and every single menu item is home cooked. It's important to Vinny that everyone in his community has access to fresh, family-friendly food so he strives to keep prices low. And they really are low, especially considering the from-scratch recipes and portions he turns out. Yet, none of those key aspects of service are mentioned in the radio ads because he wants people to experience the whole concept of under promising and over delivering. One of the taglines is Dine until you and your family get your fill - because you'll never leave our table hungry. That's a fact," Aaron added. 

A large majority of Vinny's regulars are an older crowd who frequent the restaurant daily for breakfast and coffee or lunch with their friends. But, because the word family is so prominent in its name, Winona Family Restaurant caters to everyone. Where there's a gathering of people and a need for food, it's the place to be for families, college kids, and local business people grabbing a lunch on the go in their busy days. 

"Give back to the community, and eventually it'll give back to you." - Vinny Mustafoski, Owner, Winona Family Restaurant 

How Radio Advertising Supports Small Business Goals 

When he first met Aaron and considered Leighton Media for his business needs, Vinny had a single goal: to increase business at his restaurant along Service Drive in Winona. He expressed interest in a true partnership; not just a transactional method of buying advertising. He leaned on Aaron for ideas, expertise, and guidance; and he experienced great success. Aaron said, "Radio isn't about selling. It's about a long-term goal for success. We've been partners for two years now and he asks me everything from menu ideas to what music he should play in his dining room."

As for that great success? 

Not only has Winona Family Restaurant seen an entirely new wave of patrons thanks to radio advertising, but Vinny and his family have added to other restaurants to the Winona area, including Westfield Steak and Pasta as Westfield Golf Course's Clubhouse, and a similar concept with Lake City Family Restaurant in nearby Lake City, MN. It is, after all, in Vinny's blood.

Another thing in his blood that resonates so deeply with our team is Vinny's unending dedication to community. Each Thanksgiving, for example, he opens the door to people and serves them a free holiday meal. In 2016, Winona Family Restaurant served nearly 500 meals in a few hour's time. Something he'll continue at other locations because it's important to him. It's our honor to support him in those key endeavors.

As Aaron said, "At Leighton Media, one of our core values is community-minded. That has always stood out to me as an AE. I take that to heart. I work with Vinny on that very concept as it's one of his core values, too. That's the definition of partnership to me."

Get Your "Top 9 Best Radio Strategies" eBook Download Here