A Restaurant With a Bold Perspective

building a media-worthy grand opening

the situation

In 2022, a unique culinary vision came to life in Bluffton, SC in the form of a food truck, Ọkàn. Led by Chef Bernard Bennett, Ọkàn had a goal to tell a story of African American culture, resilience, and influence through thoughtful and intentional food that took guests on a journey through the slave trade from West Africa, across the Caribbean and up to the South Carolina coast. As the food truck gained traction and the Chef became a 2023 James Beard Award nominee, the owners began next steps of opening a brick and mortar to not only further serve the community, but create a communal space that would encourage conversation that honored the pathway and history of African American heritage.

okan logo

the project

As Ọkàn began to prepare for the restaurant to open in the heart of Old Town Bluffton, ASC was retained to develop and execute a strategic plan for media opportunities including press release distribution and earned media coverage, and plan event logistics for a media night and ribbon cutting grand opening ceremony to generate buzz and excitement in the community. Our ultimate goal was to further amplify the story behind the food and highlight the thoughtful elements woven throughout the restaurant to create buy-in and position Ọkàn as a destination restaurant for long-term success.

the results

Following our team’s issuance of a press release recognizing Chef Bernard’s James Beard Award nomination and the highly anticipated opening of Ọkàn, ASC was able to solidify notable coverage in publications including The Island Packet and Eater Magazine which generated traffic to the food truck, restaurant buzz, and industry interest.

For media night, we invited and coordinated an intimate dining experience for eight local and regional media during soft opening to be the first to experience the restaurant and explore the menu. Our approach was to deepen these relationships and message the story behind Ọkàn to their most important audience: repeat diners in our community. As a result, we generated an impressive social media reach and additional coverage in CH2/CB2, Local LifeIsland Packet, and anticipated coverage in the Local Palate.


To finish out the week, ASC coordinated the ribbon cutting grand opening to officially welcome diners and mark a significant milestone in the community. ASC organized all details to make the event a success from choosing the appropriate date and time and arranging a champagne toast, partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to push marketing efforts to increase visibility, designed and sent invitations to dozens of friends and family, and distributed a media advisory to targeted contacts. 


In the competitive restaurant industry, you only get one chance to make a first impression and captivate diners with the story behind your menu and leave them wanting more. ASC was able to help share that story to ensure repeat diners and generate interest beyond the Carolina’s to secure Ọkàn’s continued success.

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