More restaurants are delivering in wrapped vans and food trucks.
JET Graphics (Freeland, MI) made this wrap for local eatery Coco Loco.

“The delivery craze is just starting to reach our area,” according to Jason Baker, co-owner of JET Graphics (Freeland, MI). In fact, wraps themselves are just starting to become common. “Customers around here tend to shy away from anything really expensive or elaborate,” he said, though local Mexican restaurant Coco Loco was willing to follow a competitor’s lead with a wrap for its own delivery van. They followed up on a reference but…


The thing is, wraps had just recently become one of JET Graphics’ offerings. “I basically grew up making signs and installing vinyl,” Jason said. However, his recent 11-year hiatus from signs coincided with wide-format printers becoming affordable to smaller shops. Nevertheless, he and his co-owner wife Tiffany Silver’s goal was to introduce wraps right away.

Jason took a day-long class held at his sign supplier. “My first full wrap was a 25-ft. enclosed trailer, which made installation easy because of the flat sides.” He also practiced on things like refrigerator doors and hockey helmets. “Last year, I took a wrap class from Justin Pate and that really helped me learn to deal with bumpers and deep contours,” Jason said. Still, “The Coco Loco van was actually pretty flat, so it was the ideal vehicle to have for one of my first full wraps.”

A wall painting from one of Coco Loco’s restaurants provided the background and their website, the logo. Jason got lucky: The client liked his design right away, no revisions needed. “Generally our jobs are a mix of clients who brings us artwork … or let us design from the ground up,” he said. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t too common. JET Graphics uses Photoshop and Flexi Cloud to design their wraps and Jason recently picked up an important insight: “Designing 100% scale in Photoshop slows your computer down quite a bit.”

Among the greater obstacles was getting the design sized correctly. “Also, the window perf was a challenge, matching it to the solid print and getting it to all line up,” Jason said. JET Graphics printed the wrap on Avery 1105 Easy Apply RS vinyl using their Roland TrueVIS VG-540 large-format inkjet printer/cutter and employed Avery DOL 1360 gloss laminate via their Royal Sovereign RSC-1402 CW/SP laminator. Jason installed the wrap aided by Avery blue squeegees with blue Monkey Strips. Once the surprisingly problem-free job was finished, he worried: “You swear something must be wrong that you aren’t catching because nothing went wrong along the way.” But despite this being among his first attempts on a full van, Coco Loco was cuckoo for the wrap.


Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale (New Haven, CT) reported an increase in sales after they had their vehicle wrapped by Merritt Graphics (Hartford, CT).
Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale (New Haven, CT) reported an increase in sales after they had their vehicle wrapped by Merritt Graphics (Hartford, CT).

The delivery craze is getting around. Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale, a New Haven, CT-based restaurant chain in operation since 1979, branched out with a food truck just last year. To wrap it, they acted on a referral to Merritt Graphics (Hartford, CT) where vice president Pat Freer sees this as part of a pattern. “There is a strong movement for brick and mortar restaurants as well as food manufacturers to expand their reach and message by entering the food truck business,” he said.

Lenny and Joe’s were looking for a moving advertisement, not a makeover, so Merritt Graphics created an enticing visual based on the existing logo. The biggest challenges installing a project like this, according to Pat, are achieving a seamless graphic depiction, panel transition and fit onto a multi-dimensional and functional truck body. So, “getting a comprehensive overview of the vehicle upstream from any design and manufacturing, performing a visual survey of the vehicle, photographing and recording all measurements are paramount,” Pat said.

Merritt Graphics utilized their HP LX 850 printer on 3M IJ180cV3 film, protected with 3M Scotchcal Gloss 8518 Overlaminate applied on their GBC Orca laminator. The installation team finished the job using Geek Wraps squeegees. The conceptual meeting with the client, two concepts and two proof reviews prior to final approval required three weeks, while printing, laminating, paneling and installation took six business days.

Today, Lenny and Joe’s report an uptick in sales. “They are driving more business to their restaurants by traveling the state in this truck,” Pat said. “Folks are eager to have Lenny and Joe’s delivered to their events.” So, while their customers are cracking crab, the restauranteurs have uncovered something even better: a recipe for increasing brand awareness.


Signs of the Times December 2018

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