Balthazar restaurant in New York carries a lot of meaning at Prosek Partners. About half of our firm had their first interview there, with me, over breakfast. Keith McNally’s well-known spot is around the corner from my former apartment and always provided a great atmosphere for morning conversation. So when Balthazar opened in London, I was excited to check it out.
This week, while visiting my colleagues across the pond, I had an opportunity to pop in and see Balthazar London firsthand. And when I walked through the door I was utterly shocked. The place is an exact replica - to the point where I kept thinking I'd be walking out on Spring Street upon leaving.
As I stepped back and thought about the experience, I was struck by the fact that Balthazar truly is a masterful example of how to maintain consistent brand standards. McNally has matched every light bulb, napkin and booth and the menu is the same. I should be impressed (our profession is obsessed with consistent brand standards, right?), but I couldn't help thinking that some small nod to the differences between New York and London and the cultures of the British and American people would be appropriate. For example should the shrimp on the menu in London not be called prawns? And despite London vernacular, the frites weren't called chips.
I walked away feeling both awestruck and unsettled. For a marketer like me, that is an oxymoron-like emotion, one that has left me still thinking about the Balthazar double take.