Pentagram Adds A Side of Humor To Deli Branding

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On Rye, a new sandwich shop in Washington, D.C. that updates Jewish deli classics with natural, wholesome ingredients and unexpected recipes. The fast-casual restaurant gives traditional dishes a modern twist, serving up a menu that includes Wagyu pastrami on gluten-free bread, vegetarian smoked beet and portobello Reubens, oven-roasted vegetable latkes, and a babka ice cream sandwich, as well as standards like matzoh ball soup and an egg cream “that’s to die for.” 

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Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, the partner-charge, and associate Jesse Reed, designed branding for On Rye that puts a contemporary spin on the straightforward, no-nonsense graphics and imagery found in traditional Jewish delis, with a side of humor. The program extends to the website, packaging, environmental graphics and swag. 

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The pragmatic approach of traditional deli graphics inspired an elemental logotype set in a strong Franklin Gothic, in stacked or horizontal configurations. The simple black-and-white color palette is set off by vivid photography of the menu items. For the images, the designers enlisted the photographer Bobby Doherty, known for his colorful food photography. Detailed, almost hyper-real shots put the food front and center, celebrating the healthful ingredients.

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