I live to eat and not the other way around. When it comes to food, I pride myself on the ability to know the difference between heavenly delights and average meals.
One of my favorite spots in the city is The Commoner. This newer restaurant has shown its worth by keeping up with some of the highly reviewed and ever-changing eateries in the city, which in today’s Pittsburgh restaurant scene is quite a feat.
I love the brand—from the relaxing, speakeasy atmosphere to the diverse menu to the strong visual identity promoted across platforms.
Vibrant Menu and Cocktails
You won’t find anything too common about The Commoner. It stands out from the hum of the city in a unique way. Located downtown in Hotel Monaco, The Commoner serves as a classy but low-key venue for late night drinks, a long dinner with friends or a quick bite to eat.
The Commoner’s Maine Muscles are a great starter to share or to have as a meal. With each bite, you become immersed in the heavenly delight of melt-in-your-mouth muscles melded with fennel, Chorizo, white wine, grilled corn and fine herbs.
Meatier entrees like The Commoner Burger, for instance, are also worth dying for. Steak blend patties, smoked cheddar, red onion jam, bacon on a buckwheat brioche bun. Need I say more?
Their entrees, however, are not the only stars of the restaurants impressive menu.
The bar has a selection of unique cocktails, beers and wines. Top Hat founder, Ben, always judges a place on its craft beer selection. He, for one, was impressed by The Commoner’s wide selection, which extends to their rooftop biergarten located far from the basement on the rooftop (obviously).
The Commoner brand is speakeasy. Naturally, their cocktail menu follows suit with an offering of prohibition era libations.
And if all that wasn’t good enough, they also have a Bloody Mary Bar.
Unabashed Local Love
Local love is a big part of the brand.
“Our love for local extends to the menu, which showcases Pennsylvania products like PA Noble cave-aged cheddar, Castle Valley Mills cornmeal and locally ranched meats from Starr Valley Farms and Elysian Fields.” -via The Commoner’s website
Menu = Brand
All of the options served at The Commoner are a key part of the brand. Being a restaurant in nature, this obviously makes a lot of sense.
What’s surprising, however, is that even restaurants can struggle not only with theming their menus, but doing those offerings justice. It’s one thing to have a fun menu, but if you don’t have the cooking talent, it’s a waste.
1920’s Speakeasy Atmosphere
As you walk into The Commoner, you automatically notice the culture of the interior and how it gives off a speakeasy vibe with a modern twist.
Speakeasy’s were the hub of underground society during the prohibition. They were almost always found in the basements of buildings all over the United States. Much in suit, The Commoner is situated in the lower portion of the Hotel Monaco building which supports the speakeasy vibe.
The dark decor with retro accents adds to the old-time aesthetic of the brand itself. It invites you in, makes you feel like you’re dining with friends.
The Story of the Name is Branding Genius
The name for “The Commoner” was named after William Pitt Elder (the man Pittsburgh was named after).
Here’s the scoop according to an article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Hotel Monaco’s The Commoner restaurant was nearly named something a little more courtly — “Elderburgh” — after William Pitt the Elder, the fiery 18th-century earl of Chatham who helped Britain win the Seven Years’ War. He’s also the man for whom Pittsburgh is named. The Commoner, decided by the hotel management, is a reference to Pitt for his refusal to accept a title until he was 58.
The Commoner ‘had a better ring to it,’ said Commoner chef Dennis Marron of the switch. ‘It conveyed a more egalitarian image, one that Pittsburgh would embrace.'”
A Strong Visual Identity
Muted green alongside crisp white as well as the classic 1930’s fonts are reminiscent of a time gone by while the modern font in the logo ties everything together.
The brand is simplistic yet sophisticated in its own right. When dining at The Commoner you are immersed in a world, rather than being part of another routine dining experience. Their brand is a testament to the restaurant’s unspoken motto that it is a place for everyone..
Simple, modern and approachable are the words that come to mind when describing The Commoner’s brand. It’s evident that through the brainstorming process, the average Pittsburgh resident was kept in mind when creating the brand. The texts, colors and shapes all coincide with the modern design while maintaining a classic integrity.
It invites and welcomes the common man (or woman) to sit down for a delicious meal and savor the sweet medley of delight in front of them.