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RA Rebrands Catering Unit

New market identity of high-end Northeast social/corporate caterer emphasizes modern, creative approach to innovative cuisine.

On February 12th, 2014, Catering by Restaurant Associates, the social and corporate catering unit of high-end corporate, education and cultural center dining services provider Restaurant Associates, launched a new look and brand, CXRA. The unit enjoys a substantial catering market share in New York City and the Northeast, serving leading arts centers and institutions throughout the region, as well as providing large-scale event food services.

But in 2013 it became clear to Catering by Restaurant Associates management that this ubiquity had created a new problem.

"It was a double-edged sword," says Tim McLaughlin, RA's Senior VP of Culinary Services. "Clients were recognizing the team's ability to consistently craft these large events, but at the same time, our commitment to things like local ingredients and culinary creativity—these things that really mattered to us—were being overlooked."

In June 2013, McLaughlin formed a committee to address this issue and explore solutions. For this purpose, they selected Brooklyn-based independent creative firm Madwell.

After meeting with the committee and attending Catering by Restaurant Associates events throughout the city, Madwell advised that the key to success was a clearer, more direct message born of embracing—not shying away from—that past.

The first step was rebranding Catering by Restaurant Associates as CxRA, a name that projects a modern, creative approach to innovative cuisine. The re-branding initiative then came to life with a new CxRA website ( In addition to an intuitive navigation and greater clarity of purpose, the site features a series of intimate plating videos shot on location at the CxRA Central Catering Kitchen and a vivid image-driven gallery, both of which would better showcase the team's artistry.

"We had to make it clear that big isn't boring," McLaughlin says. "To show that yes, we have all this history, and we're creative and adventurous—that that's actually possible. That was the challenge. And I think our new look and feel really does that."

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