Small-Town Restaurant Turns Unfortunate Name Into Minor Fame With 'I Got Corona At Omicron Family Restaurant' T-shirt
It's not every day that a branding opportunity is served on a silver platter. But, when it is, you need to take advantage.
That's exactly what Omicron Family Restaurant in West Bend, Wisconsin, did.
Look, no one is happy about the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19. But, if your business is already named Omicron ... well, that's an opportunity too good to pass up. So, the owners not only decided to start selling T-shirts connecting the two, they started selling Corona beers so the T-shirts could say "I Got Corona at Omicron. West Bend, WI."
Let’s go have some omicron family breakfast 😂😂https://t.co/YuyoKp23U5
— Michael Johnson (@MJohnsonCEO) January 24, 2022
"I think a lot of people are just getting to the point where they can laugh about it now," Omicron manager John Tsiampas told Madison.com.
Tsiampas came up with the idea for the shirts, which sell for $15. The first batch of 100 sold out in mere hours, followed by a second round of 100 that did the same. Last week, he ordered 100 more, and as of now has five left.
People from all over the country have been calling the restaurant to try to buy a shirt, which is unusual for a little family-owned restaurant outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Even late night host Jimmy Kimmel made a joke about the shirt, prompting Tsimpias to send him one on the house.
At the end of the day, the shirts are a promotional tool for the restaurant to boost business for its main attraction: food. Tsimpias said the restaurant has been "a little busier, nothing crazy"—about a 20% increase in sales.
There's a fine line between tongue-in-cheek references to the pandemic and coming off as insensitive. One could argue that it's a bad look to make light of a deadly pandemic. But, in the case of Omicron Family Restaurant, it's not promoting a crowded event or anything otherwise particularly risky. Heck, people can buy the shirt without ever leaving home or actually buying a Corona in West Bend.
Opportunities like this rarely present themselves. The owners of Omicron took advantage of it with some self-awareness. And, for the Tsimpias family, the shirt is doing exactly what it was supposed to—advertising a small business in a tough time for restaurants and bringing attention they otherwise never could've dreamed of.