Univator Awards - Clipper Only Company to Win Two

Clipper Corporation wins two Univator Awards in Product Implementation for the design and roll-out of Mimi’s Café and Chinese Gourmet Express, the only company to win two awards in 2012!

Chinese Gourmet Express Uniform Program

The typical mall food court is a tough place to set up shop, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Restaurants fight for business side by side, and as ovens and cooktops heat up for the day, so does the competition. Some restaurant owners lure in customers with free samples or the wafting scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns, but for food court favorite Chinese Gourmet Express, a revamped uniform program was the key to success.

“We don’t want to look like everyone else in the food court,” says Sam Sim, owner of Chinese Gourmet Express. This nationwide chain of quick-service Chinese food restaurants is dedicated to making great, fresh food at an affordable price. Sim and his wife, Monica, use authentic Chinese recipes inspired by provinces throughout China, and patrons appreciate the authenticity of the food – a rarity in the mall food court.

While the vibrant, delicious food at Chinese Gourmet Express certainly stood out in a sea of food court fare, the employees’ uniforms were falling flat. Their standard-issue, off-the-shelf polos wrinkled easily, faded and looked unflattering, especially on female employees. Clipper Corp. came to the rescue, revitalizing the uniform look with high-tech performance polos, which, as Earl of Clipper Corp. puts it, “last twice as long and look ten times better!” Unisex sizes were replaced by flattering, gender-specific cuts. Managers were assigned unique colors, helping contribute to this quick-service restaurant’s efficiency and professional appearance. Clipper Corp. also included a hat in the program to give employees an extra splash of style.

Clipper Corp. made a few key changes to the uniform for Chinese Gourmet Express, but these small changes had a significant impact on the company’s overall image. Clipper Corp. helped a small, family-owned chain compete with huge fast-food companies, a feat that’s certainly worthy of recognition.

Mimi's Café Uniform Program

The saying goes that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. In the case of Mimi’s Café, too many suppliers were spoiling the style of this cute French restaurant. To give it that certain je ne sais quoi, Mimi’s Café turned to Clipper Corp., which transformed its program into a cohesive one that truly meets its needs.

Mimi’s Café is a fast-casual national restaurant chain with a French twist. The exterior is reminiscent of a quaint French country home, and the interior is inviting, featuring stained wood and exposed brick. From breakfast through dinner, guests enjoy the rich, rustic flavors of France as well as healthy, family-friendly fare and warm service. The French theme carries throughout the restaurant but, up until recently, stopped short at the restaurant’s uniform program. Mimi’s Café was using a variety of suppliers, each contributing to a small part of the overall uniform picture. Not only was the uniform look lacking cohesion, the program was difficult for the chain to manage.

Mimi’s had embarked on an all-encompassing rebranding effort and, in the process, found that off-the-shelf apparel and accessories didn’t quite meet its needs. Mimi’s turned to Clipper Corp., whom it already relied upon for smallwares needs, to develop a customized solution. Briana Earl, account executive at Clipper Corp., explains, “Mimi’s was kind of a unique situation for us in that they didn’t have a define uniform goal.”

Clipper created custom pieces for the chain, including a classic black bistro apron with a wide, chic waistband as well as a tie printed with custom artwork. Clipper included crisp button-downs and flattering blouses for management, available in ten colors. The choice of colors, explains Earl, “allows the managers to have an individual style.” Back-of-the-house employees were outfitted in sophisticated cook shirts, customized chef coats and houndstooth chef pants.

Clipper Corp. also implemented an online ordering system that enables stores to log in and purchase uniforms. This system allows Mimi’s Café to effectively and efficiently manage its uniform program.

Clipper Corp. was able to put together a uniform program using a combination of off-the-shelf, classic pieces and custom pieces to create an effortlessly stylish look with positively French flair. The online ordering system makes for a “hands-off uniform program that sort of runs itself,” says Earl. C’est si bon!