Grits and Grids™ originated as a blog for the restaurant branding firm, Vigor. It started as a means to build inspiration and bring the awesome world of restaurant branding and design to creatives, but was also meant to raise awareness around the power of restaurant branding for the food service industry. After years of blogging on the company’s blog, INVIGOR8, the content became more well-known and highly visited. The steady traffic kept the updates coming.

In early 2014 Vigor shifted INVIGOR8 to Grits + Grids relaunching with a more frequent update schedule. Now the site covers all forms of restaurant design, branding, marketing and thought leadership for our readership of designers, chefs, restaurant owners, and various other wanderers of the interwebs. Our mission: to showcase inspirational restaurant-related design to build awareness in both the restaurant and creative industries. Enjoy.


Joseph Szala – Curator & Restaurant Designer/Branding Expert

Meet Joseph Szala, a multitalented brand builder and creative director of Vigor, a branding and marketing agency for food, beverage, and hospitality.  With a broad skill set rooted in design and brand leadership, Joseph brings a powerful blend of award-winning creative, brand strategy expertise, and an unyielding passion for realizing the potential of brands large and small.

During stints at a handful of agencies in the New York City and Pennsylvania markets, he gained industry experience that fueled the desire to establish his own firm, Vigor, in 2003. Joseph built Vigor into a highly regarded restaurant branding powerhouse over the course of 10 years. During that time, it was his mission and primary focus to codify his own proprietary branding process for the restaurant industry. That process has since been leveraged to create new, innovative restaurant concepts from Honolulu to Boston, Miami to Seattle.

2010 saw the publication of his first book, Fire It Up: Building Restaurant Brands That Blaze. Joseph authored and curated the book in response to the need for a no-nonsense approach to developing restaurant brands. The book has been integral in helping clients and designers better understand the ins and outs of developing restaurant brands. In 2015 he published his second book, Stop Blasting My Mama: Make Email Marketing Succeed for Your Restaurant. Currently, he’s working on a third book as a followup to Fire It Up.

Joseph’s work has been recognized by respected industry magazines such as Communication Arts, Graphis, and has been published in multiple books on design excellence. He speaks on the subject of beverage and restaurant branding and authors and offers expert commentary in, articles for Huffington Post,  QSR Magazine, Fast Casual, FSR Magazine,,, SmartBlogs, Branding Magazine, and various other publications. He served as Adjunct Professor of design at Art Institute of York, Pennsylvania and studied design at Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts in York, Pennsylvania.