Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Cereality experience

For several years I have kept up with and commented on Cereality, the early leader in the cereal restaurant business. They have had theirs ups and downs, and possibly have a brighter future after their takeover by a similar chain, Coldstone Creamery.

But up to this point I had never actually experienced a visit to Cereality. There are few locations, and none anywhere near where I live. But, during a trip this week I found myself in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport where a new Cereality recently opened. Of course, I took advantage of the opportunity during a 2-hour morning layover.

I must qualify my review by pointing out that this is an airport location, and airport versions of restaurants are typically dumbed-down versions of the real thing. Based on what I've learned about Cereality, this location is not quite the normal format of their cereal bars. Just the fact that it shared space with a Blimpies sub stand is indication of that.

What struck me most upon first approach is how much it lacked the direct, emotional attachment to cereal. In other words, I couldn't see what would draw someone to the location if they were not already familiar with the brand or concept. Signage was minimal and less than enticing. There were several LCD monitors promoting several custom combinations, but I was expecting more. For example, there were absolutely no tie-ins to the the brand images of the major cereals they stocked. Why hasn't Cereality worked out licensing agreements with Kellogg, General Mills, Post and Quaker to display some of its logos, packaging, etc? (Maybe the big cereal companies themselves should be starting their own concept restaurants building on these strong images?)

While one can simply order cereal and milk in their innovative, disposable bowl/box, the real point of visiting Cereality is enjoying a combination of either hot or cold cereals and other add-ins such as fruit, nuts, syrups, candy, etc. I decided to choose one of their suggested combinations - the Country Inn Crunch, a mix of low-fat granola, frosted flakes, and cinnamon apples. After the server struggled to figure out what I wanted and then put it together following a chart on the wall, I added the milk from a small carton and dug in. Far from exhilirating, but a decent late breakfast.

I certainly see the potential in cereal restaurants, but, at least based on this encounter at Cereality, see considerable room for improvements and a stronger brand image and experience. I will be interested to check out other locations and some of their fledgling competitors in the future to see how the concept develops.

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Anonymous said...

You should try The Cereal Boxx in Tucson, AZ. A far expanded version of cereal, with plenty of other options. Homemade granola that is out of this world as well.

dimarco3 said...

When the University City, Philadelphia Cereality existed they had as decor some early sketches of our favorite characters i.e. Tony the Tiger and the Toucan Sam. There were extra long dining room tables and a breakfast bar. But I still felt it was somewhat bland and didn't entirely sell me on the 'Saturday Morning experience'.

Lovesac's and 90's Nickelodeon reruns would have made it far more inviting. Keeping visitors planted in theirs seats just as Panera Bread does with its studious patrons.

Lloyd said...


Yes! A stronger and more marked experience would make a big difference.