Hamburgers, Lemonade, and Other Creative Business Solutions

A lifetime ago, on March 17, Business Insider published an article about Canlis, a James Beard award-winning, $135 per head, fine dining restaurant in Seattle that pivoted to serving $14 drive-through cheeseburgers. A 2020 real-world example of turning lemons into lemonade, and serving its community what it actually needed, Canlis’s story offered the inspiration many of us seeking creative business solutions to a global pandemic were seeking.

The story of Brian and Mark Canlis’s creative approach early in the pandemic became something of a mantra at ImageThink. As a company that historically derived 90% of our revenue from on-site client support and visualizing conferences and events, we certainly had to start making patties.

Hamburgers are the Mother of Invention

An interesting thing happened, for both Canlis and ImageThink. Following explosive popularity and word of mouth, Canlis was selling a thousand burgers a day, just at lunch, for $14 a pop. And Mark and Brian needed to come up with the next thing. They created a bagel shed, offered bottle service, meal delivery then CSA shares, planned Bingo night, offered livestreams of their piano bar, set up a drive-in movie theater, and even launched an outdoor crab shack. And through all of these initiatives, Canlis has been able to keep its full staff employed.

Live Ask the Expert event with ImageThink and Daniel Stillman

Like countless other restaurants and businesses in the service industry, ImageThink got creative with our offerings, skills, and products, leveraging a decade of experience in graphic facilitation and digital graphic recording. For months, we’ve offered free-to-attend webinars and live series on elevating virtual meetings, improving remote brainstorms, and finding creative business solutions. We’ve adopted new technology, utilized new platforms, and created new service offerings to meet the urgent needs of clients blindsided by a global health and safety crisis.

So now we’ve made it to the end of 2020, but far from the end of the fallout from this global pandemic. Where does that leave us? What do we do now, and at the top of the new year? We thought we’d check back in with our pals across the country to see how their fare is faring these days.

Keep Making Hamburgers. Keep Going to School.

Turns out, innovation is still the name of the game. With indoor dining currently a limited or completely nixed option for much of the country, Canlis took a bold step and leapt beyond the burger, beyond food altogether. At the end of September, the tasting menu restaurant launched Canlis Community College, ostensibly on the advice of one of America’s single greatest business minds. Part culinary school, part palette training camp, and part online workout and culture club, Canlis Community College is a fun, creative, experimental multi-media project that allows Canlis and its staff to celebrate food, the restaurant, and the city they love. Not to mention, it’s a great way to keep their business and brand in the front of peoples’ minds.

ImageThink teaching creative business solutions to students at Columbia.
Missing the days of in-person classes; join us for an online session in 2021!

Hopefully, many of you enjoyed learning about our proprietary ImageThink Method™ over the past month. Developed over the last decade of working with some of the top business minds all over the world, The ImageThink Method™ just scratches the surface of what we’ve learned, and what we’ll be sharing in the new year. We may not have any sommeliers on staff (at this time), but if the idea of learning online from some of the world’s top experts excites you, watch this space.

In the meantime, stay safe, especially if and when visiting family and friends. If you can’t visit, stay connected online or over the phone, and look forward to time together in the future. Want to find your hamburgers? Ready to make the lemonade? Let us help – set up a call now, and start 2021 off prepared.

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