After the success of Nicli Antica Pizzeria—the first pizzeria in Vancouver to make traditional VPN-certified Neapolitan pizza using a wood-fire oven—owner Bill McCaig wanted to expand, and in so doing, create a hub for the neighbourhood. Incorporating the history of Gastown and the comfort of Italian food, Nicli and Vicino would service the neighbourhood’s residents by providing outstanding food, ingredients, and a warm welcome for busy people to eat in and take out.
We needed to create a complementary companion brand for the established Nicli Antica, bring a consistent and manageable identity system together and build a responsive online presence for the two establishments.
Research, research, research. To communicate that perfect mix of Gastown heritage, Italian authenticity, and a love for outstanding food, we looked into both Italy’s history of signage and graphic design. Old neon signs and handwritten notes were collected, until we finally came to the decision that fit best: a logo that communicates heritage and authenticity, yet with a clean and modern twist. Vicino di Casa was the perfect name, too: it’s Italian for “next door neighbour”, but we shortened it to Vicino, or “neighbour”. After all, not only is Vicino the neighbour to Nicli, but it’s also like a good neighbour to the residents of Gastown—there to provide authentic food and a warm experience.
Secondly, although many of us foodies at the office frequent Gastown for its gastronomic seduction, we didn’t actually know much about the history behind 68 East Cordova Street and the surrounding area. So, we took trips to Vancouver Public Library and City Archives where we discovered treasure-troves of newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous notes that revealed the building’s history of being a key service provider in Gastown, from carriages in 1890 to canned food in 1960. All the knowledge we gained helped us write the Vicino story in the most genuine way possible.
Gastown is in the midst of somewhat of a renaissance, with new restaurants, bars and shops opening almost weekly it seems. For Nicli-Vicino, we had the opportunity to combine our out-of-office love for incredible food with our years of experience with brand strategy and execution.
The two restaurants each have a uniqueness to them, yet, also enjoy an underlying dna that is apparent in the quality, service, style and of course, the food. Capturing this essence in the visual and design work helps to deepen that connection, and the consumer experience. Ultimately, the goal is to give diners distinct experiences yet create the sense of a greater, bolder presence for Nicli and Vicino. The sleek and modern mixed with antique original brick of Nicli is paired with a warm, bright, and somewhat rustic touch in Vicino. Together, the two establishments are a relevant, authentic and spirited addition to the spirit of today’s Gastown.
Upon opening, Vicino earned nothing but praise, with a 95% approval rating on UrbanSpoon, and 4.5 stars on Yelp. Nicli owns authentic Neapolitan wood-oven pizza in Gastown, and remains as popular as ever. The Nicli Vicino brands still have some time to develop the exact mix of crossover (pizza in one, drinks in another kind of free-flow dining), but the direction is set and a solid foundation built for a lasting brand.
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