Sam and Ellas Sign, Chicken Palace, Pizza and Subs

Say the name out loud if you don’t get it right away.

The funny thing is Sam and Ella’s Chicken Palace doesn’t even serve chicken as a main dish. They never have. The name is purely for laughs and a great story.

In truth, Sam and Ella’s is the place to go for pizza and subs. They arguably make the best pizza pies within 100 miles (probably further) of their location in downtown Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

I can attest to this, having eaten there over the Labor Day weekend, and let me tell you it was some of the best pizza I’ve had in a long time. If you don’t believe me read these raving reviews.

Right about now, some of you are still hung up on the fact that the restaurant is named Sam and Ella’s, which even as a joke is a little too close for comfort to the word salmonella. You’re probably thinking, “So they make great pizza. Who cares? Who would be so naive and open a restaurant that’s name jokes about food poisoning? The name is one of the most important building blocks of a brand. It’s not a joke.”

If you’re thinking that, this ones for you.

It’s time to chunk the marketing rule book

(Not for good, so don’t have a heart attack. Just put it down for a few days.) You’ve been blinded by it and wouldn’t even think of doing anything expect for what the written page directs you to do.

It’s time to test your faith a bit and question some of the things you’ve taken as the gospel truth for so long.

Like it or not, that’s how we grow our knowledge and understanding, not by following procedures and plans written by marketing professionals who’ve gone on before us. One of my favorite quotes comes from Matsuo Basho, famous Japanese poet who said,

“Don’t seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”

As for Sam and Ella’s, the name may be a bit risky. They’ve set themselves up to be one of the cleanest kitchens in the whole state. They have to be. They can’t ever cut corners or make mistakes when it comes to keeping the kitchen clean. Even a false alarm when it comes to food poisoning would become a pr nightmare.

They could have chosen a seemingly safer name, like Mullen’s Pizza and Subs, but that would have been boring. As Seth Godin says, “safe is risky” because it rarely works.

In this case risky must be working, because the owners recently opened a new restaurant in Tahlequah called Ernie Coli’s Chili Pot, and it doesn’t serve chili. It’s a Mexican restaurant.

You won’t find that in a marketing or branding book.


Sam and Ellas Old Downtown (Sam and Ella’s in downtown Tahlequah, via: omalleygranuaile)

Sam and Ellas at Night (Sam and Ella’s at Night, via: Captain Bolivia)

(Sam and Ella’s wooden sign photo via: PubliusTX)