It’s a difficult task for any business to stand out in the modern world where nearly every owner has access to social media and a lot of them are competing over a limited number of customers. Things looked especially grim for the restaurant industry during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the going’s still tough for many places.
However, when you’ve struck gold with your marketing campaign, as one restaurant in Texas has, you can’t help but continue doing what you’re doing. After all, you don’t want to drastically change what works—you only improve on an already successful formula.
Welcome to the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, an establishment that has won over the locals and the internet with its quirky and witty signs out front. Time and time again, they’ve had us laughing far louder than we’d care to admit. Have a look at El Arroyo’s newest brilliant signs, upvote your faves, and be sure to share ‘em with your friends if they’re looking a tad blue. Hungry for some more Tex-Mex hilarity? Then you’ll want a bite of what Bored Panda has cooked up about the restaurant’s sign game before here and here.
The El Arroyo restaurant has been delighting Texans with delicious food for nearly half a century. Founded way back in 1975, it has been “serving up Tex-Mex with a side of laughs” on their famous marquee sign ever since.
On its website, the restaurant boasts that it has covered “every food pun imaginable” over the years. El Arroyo doesn’t just rely on puns and quick laughs, however. It also uses its sign to dish out comments on current events (get ‘em while they’re hot!).
The restaurant’s online presence has grown immensely recently. Back in April 2020, the last time Bored Panda wrote about El Arroyo’s wonderful signs, the establishment’s Instagram profile had 236k followers. A feat in itself! Things have only gotten better since then.
Throughout the pandemic, El Arroyo’s following has grown to a whopping 489k followers on IG, showing that humor really is a powerful force when it comes to getting fans. Who doesn’t love a good laugh when things seem so scary? The humorous signs help take our minds off things. Even if for a few minutes.
El Arroyo is very friendly to its fans. For instance, the staff encourages customers and internet followers alike to submit their own sign suggestions. You can do this on the restaurant’s website. Or, if you prefer, you can email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Honestly, I’d feel like I’ve won the lottery if any of my suggestions got picked by them. If you’ve got any food puns or witty comments about recent events, why not give it a shot and send them a submission?
The couple behind El Arroyo are Ellis and Paige Winstanley who have owned and operated the Austin restaurant since 2012. They told ‘Austin Monthly’ that the famous sign “had a lot of issues” when they first arrived.
“Pissed-off people were calling regularly about its messaging back then. So, we tried to do two things: Harness a voice that toes the line between uplifting, snarky, and of-the-moment, and lean into the social media side of things. These days, we have more than 660,000 followers across all our platforms,” Paige told ‘Austin Monthly.’
“Unless it’s a public figure who really asks for it, we want it to be a beacon of genuine love for the spirit of Austin. We stay on top of current events, too. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve come up with quips on a text chain where we’re just spitballing [...] and, 30 minutes later, it’s up,” Ellis said.
The couple took an innovative approach to weather the Covid-19 pandemic and help keep their employees afloat. At the start of the lockdowns, they took a risk with to-go margaritas (all helped by their sign that said, “Now would be a good time to legalize margarita delivery”) which was very successful and resonated with a lot of the locals.
According to the National Restaurant Association in the US, the pandemic erased 3.1 million jobs by the end of 2020 from what the numbers were expected to be. Over 110k American eating and drinking establishments closed their doors in 2020 (whether permanently or temporarily). Overall, the restaurant and foodservice industry sales fell by a whopping 240 billion dollars last year.
We can’t be certain of the full effects that the pandemic has had on the restaurant industry until much, much later, as the global crisis still hasn’t been wrangled and the stats are still pouring in. However, from what we know, it was hard going for a long while.
In short, it’ll take a while to see how much the situation has changed for restaurants (hopefully, for the better) with the rollout of Covid vaccines and mass vaccination programs in the US and abroad. One thing’s for sure, though: putting up funny and creative signs like El Arroyo can’t hurt your chances of flourishing as a business.