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Digital Strategy User Experience App Architecture & Development Product Design Native iOS & Web App


Culinary Genius is a Tap Away


An innovative New Orleans restauranteur with a passion for the gourmet brings unique dining experiences to foodies everywhere—live, raw, and in the moment.


Specialus engaged us to assist with a new web and social media-based mobile app that would allow food lovers to cut through the clutter of customer reviews and explore chefs, restaurant ambiance, and daily specials via video. They needed full-service support from a skilled branding and mobile app development team—enter High Seas. We were delighted to take the lead on branding, business strategy, website interface design, and mobile app development for this talented entrepreneur.

Tablet device showing page from Specialus social media app.
Fine dinning food with Specialus social media mobile app screens overlayed.

Our team started off by exploring and establishing branding that spoke to the core of Specialus. The logo we crafted features a fork for its inherent symbolism—as a tool for eating; a symbol of sustenance, farming and gardening; and a reference to “fork in the road,” which speaks to the exploration of new culinary horizons. We leaned into the concept of divergent paths because it perfectly encapsulates the user’s control over their viewing experience within the Specialus app.

We also embedded a Cupid's arrow into the logo as a reference to connectivity, interactions, love, and passion. All of these elements are reflected in the Viewfinder—a tool that enables viewers to access behind-the-scenes exclusives.

Mosaic layout of Specialus social media mobile app screens.
Mosaic layout of different Specialus logo designs.
Example of Specialus style guide.

On the back-end, we worked with Specialus to architect a comprehensive system that could be used seamlessly across mobile and desktop devices. By using the Xamarin platform, we ensured that future Android application development would be efficient, allowing the client to grow their fan base over time. Our in-house development team built the website and admin tools in Ruby and based the system on Mongo Database, known for its high performance and scalability. To keep initial hosting costs down in the beta phase, we integrated with Vimeo and YouTube for video hosting.

Creating a design system that would offer consistency across web and mobile views was a challenge we looked forward to. Inspired by the simplicity of the Specialus mission, our designers highlighted the videos using a newsfeed-style scrolling view. Users could rapidly filter restaurants by location and cuisine. And, by featuring the most recent videos first, Specialus encouraged restaurants to constantly post new content to ensure they remained relevant.

Tablet device showing page from Specialus social mobile media app.

By providing a direct view into cuisine, ambiance, and culture of restaurants, we invited viewers to peruse up-to-date videos fueled directly by the vision of chefs themselves. The interface design we crafted is intuitive and inviting, allowing fans to browse and explore. By launching hover-activated forms for search and account management, the videos hold maximum real estate on the page. An easy-to-navigate profile administration system grants restaurants full control over their venue and cuisine details, plus the ability to feature photos and videos that speak to their culture.The iPhone app is at the heart of the solution we created. Not only is it a beautiful showcase for restaurant videos, it provides the tools that chefs and managers need to participate in the network. Once logged into the app, they have instant access to video recording and uploading tools so they can record, tag, and post to social media networks on the fly.

As with many of our projects, brand strategy was the driving force behind our work. We helped Specialus define their brand vision and core tenants, and outlined a classic, historical presence and tone that felt top-tier, never whimsical. The result was a respectable aesthetic rife with rustic elegance and reminiscent of an upscale restaurant—one that appeals to both chefs and foodies alike.


Brand + Content to Fuel Growth and Expansion