Platform 909: Your Portal to Hogwarts

Whether you’re part of the Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor House, Platform 909 welcomes all fans of Harry Potter. I have never been a Harry Potter fanatic, but as soon as I heard about Platform 909 I had to go see it for myself! Their name is inspired by the famous Harry Potter Landmark Platform 9 ¾ (I believe the 909 comes from their area code).  

Waves of nostalgia hit me instantly as I took my first steps into the store. The interior of Platform 909 is beautifully decorated with Harry Potter mementos and memorabilia. A few in particular caught my eye immediately: Hogwarts House Banners, Harry’s Firebolt Racing Broom and Sirius Black’s Wanted Poster.

Platform 909 specializes in coffee, teas, and breakfast pastries. Among their vast assortment of drinks, they do have Harry Potter themed beverages. Two of the most noteworthy being the Platform Special and their Hogwarts House Teas. The Platform special is inspired by butter-beer and the Hogwart House Teas are a recent spring addition to their menu.

While Platform 909 does many things right, there are a few areas that can be improved in order to take it to the next level.

The Welcoming Feast Menu

Similar to how the Start of Term Feast or Welcoming Feast outlines the Hogwarts students’ terms; a menu is essentially the customer’s guide to the products and sets the tone of the establishment. At Platform 909 the menu is the only part of the store that has little to no resemblance to the Harry Potter theme. Based on what’s served it would be hard to make every drink/food items based off Harry Potter puns, but there is not a single item on the menu that plays along with the theme. This is concerning because Platform 909’s appeal is surrounded by the fact that it’s a Harry Potter inspired café.

With a few subtle changes to their menu I believe the theme would come alive much more.

The menu feels like it’s missing something…

Accio: Social Media Optimization

Social Media is essential for any business due to the increasing number of online users and the digital dependency that it’s creating. For Platform 909 I believe this is another area it can greatly improve on especially considering the business has no official website.

5 ways to optimize their Social Media platform:

  • encourage use of their hashtag
  • feature customer story posts
  • repost customer posts
  • promote yelp check-in rewards
  • utilize customer shout outs.

By utilizing these strategies social interaction and engagement would increase significantly while also creating stronger relationships between the business and its customers.

While you’re here, check out their IG!

Wizardly Discounts

This could be ignorance on my end, but I noticed there are little to no promotional offers on their products. They do run a $1-dollar discount on waffles if you use the Yelp check in feature, but I believe it would be more effective to run promotions on the drinks due to their order volume over the waffles. Promotions are a necessary evil that every business needs to utilize.

3 reasons why promotions are useful for any business:

  • encourage new customers to try their products
  • helps build recurring customers
  • increase sales volume quickly

In exchange for short-term gain, promotions allow businesses to secure new customers and strengthen customer loyalty.

Final Considerations

Despite all the critiques I’ve made on Platform 909, this Harry Potter themed coffee shop succeeds in countless other ways. The atmosphere is perfect for studying while still maintaining the feeling that you’re in the Harry Potter universe. Their mochi waffles are delicious and compliment any drink you decide to order. Additionally, their diverse drink options allow Platform 909 to accommodate majority of customers.

If you like quality coffee/teas, Harry Potter, waffles or all the above Platform 909 is the place for you!

Reviewoholic Certified Recommendations:

  • Matcha Latte (hot or iced)
  • Vanilla Latte (hot or iced)
  • Mochi Waffle
  • House Golden Milk Tea (their best milk tea)

Find Out More About Platform 909!

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Will Hotties Live Up to Howlin’ Ray’s Legacy?

Nashville-style fried chicken is making its way into the Inland Empire with hopes of replicating the success it has in Los Angeles. Hotties Nashville Hot Chicken has joined The Shoppes at Chino Hills and received tremendous reciprocation in its first opening months. But will it live up to its big brother, Howlin’ Ray’s, in Los Angeles? To this day, Howlin’ Ray’s has the most amount of reviews I have ever seen on Yelp (5000+ reviews with a 4.5-star rating). Certainly there is a market for Nashville-style chicken, however Hotties has its work cut out for it.

Story Time: For this review I brought along two of my coworkers (Hensley & Vincent) in order to get a more thorough and well-rounded review. Hensley really loves Nashville-style fried chicken: he eats it weekly and on occasion makes it at home.  All things considered I definitely needed his opinion on Hotties. My second coworker, Vincent, came because he owed me lunch, so bringing him was a no-brainer. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this visit because I hyped up Hotties to them ever since my first time eating it. Thoughts like “what if they don’t like it?” or “what if it’s not as good today?” raced through my mind all the way up to their first bites.

Our Order
Vincent Two Tender Combo (medium)
Hensley- Slider Combo (spicy)
MeTwo Tender Combo (spicy)

Spice Level Breakdown
No Spice: for customers who either don’t like spicy food or want to enjoy without the cayenne seasoning.
Mild: recommended for those who want a slight hint of the cayenne, but have low spice tolerances.
Medium: perfect for people who enjoy spice and want a consistent level of heat.
Spicy: Now we’re playing with fire, unless your spice tolerance is above average this level should be satisfactory.
Fire: only for those who love torturing their taste-buds and have an insane spice tolerance.

Two Tender Combo (comes with fries, bread, pickles and sauce)

To summarize their opinions in the most honest and concise way, I decided to use quotes said directly by them.

“This was really bomb; but their bread is not as good as Cane’s though. 10/10”


“The chicken has more flavor than the Nashville Hot at KFC, but the spice level is a definitely on the weaker side.”


Luckily for me, Hotties was a huge success for all of us. We left with full stomachs and full intentions of coming back soon!

Their slogan is displayed on both windows of the store (left side)

Now back at the topic at hand: How does Hotties stack up against Howlin’ Ray’s? I will be comparing them based on three crucial criteria: taste, location and market appeal/branding.

In terms of taste, Howlin’ Ray’s definitely has the edge in this department, but Hotties is a close second. The good news is Hotties is still developing and perfecting its product so there is definitely room for growth and improvement. If Hotties improved:

  • evenness of their seasoning
  • strength of their spice levels
  • their side options

it would rival Howlin’ Ray’s pretty convincingly. As they stand now if I had to put numbers to their ratings, Hotties would be 8/10 and Howlin’ Ray’s would be 9/10.

Location is where Hotties has the biggest disadvantage when compared with Howlin’ Ray’s. By no means is Chino Hills a bad location for Hotties, in fact The Shoppes is one of the highest traffic areas in Chino Hills. That being said, Howlin’ Ray’ is in the heart of Los Angeles where the population and opportunities are multiple times greater. For reference, the highest traffic for Hotties may not even equal the lowest traffic of Howlin’ Ray’s simply based off the locational advantage. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about the location besides moving or opening up another location. But before that Hotties needs to focus on solidifying its market in the Inland Empire and then start its expansion.

Erns Lab Project’s Video Review of Hotties

In my honest opinion, market appeal is Hotties’ second greatest weakness in comparison to Howlin’ Ray’s. Based purely on followers, Hotties is far behind with a mere fraction of Howlin’ Ray’s fan base. Once again I have to mention Hotties is still in its beginning stages of business so that definitely is a huge factor. My suggestion to improve their following is to feature more of their customers’ social media posts to increase engagement on posts. Hottie’s branding is definitely a strong suit because it’s eye-catching and memorable (they need to get an official sign for the store though). Its slogan “thicc thighs save lives” definitely appeals to the younger generation, which is perfect seeing that is the majority of the consumer base.


  • time
  • better social media leverage
  • consistency

I believe Hottie’s branding could match or surpass Howlin’ Ray’s.

Final Take: there is definitely room for improvement, however I look forward to being a regular customer and watching it grow as a company.

Q: Will it match Howlin’ Ray’s success in the future?
A: I’m not sure, but at the very least it can be the Howlin’ Ray’s of the Inland Empire.

Reviewoholic Certified Recommendations

  • Two Tender Combo – the most popular item menu and is the safest introduction to Hotties
  • Slider Combo – for more adventurous consumers who like more combined flavors

Find Out More About Hotties Nashville Hot Chicken

Check Out Last Week’s Review!

Connecting Cultures & Communities: 7Leaves

The Shoppes at Chino Hills Location

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave you have definitely noticed an invasion of tea & boba shops from 2012-present (timeline based on my own observations). Statistically speaking, many of these will fail due to intense competition, lack of differentiation and other variables outside of their control. In order to stay afloat in this overpopulated niche, it’s absolutely essential to provide value to the customers. Value comes in many forms:

(A) Quality Products
(B) Exceptional Service
(C) Clear Vision
(D) Persistent Passion

7Leaves has all of the above. Armed with the ingredients for irresistible drinks and an invaluable business model, their success is no surprise. With each passing day, 7Leaves continues to carve paths between cultures, communities and cups.

Behind Their Blueprint of Success

(A) Quality may mean different things to different people, but to me it means a product or service that betters my life. Whether I need a little pick-me-up or tea craving satisfied, 7Leaves always delivers with excellence and sincerity. From the fruity refresher teas to their assortment of milk teas, I have thoroughly enjoyed their whole menu. One of my favorite drinks, the Matcha Soy, is made from high-grade matcha to ensure remarkable flavor (out of all the matcha drinks I’ve tasted 7Leaves has one of the best).

All ingredients are freshly sourced

The tea base in their drinks tastes more potent and authentic without being intimidating to first time customers. Yet another area 7Leaves excels at is consistency. They have their drink recipes down to a science so customers know what to expect no matter the time or day they visit!

(From left to right: Vietnamese Coffee, Matcha Soy & Thai Tea)

(B) Think about the most successful companies in the world, what do they all have in common? Phenomenal customer service. Customer service is the bridge between the consumer and the company’s products/services. 7Leave’s metaphorical bridge is world-class with its commitment to serve:

“goodness in every cup, in every community”.

excerpt from 7Leave’s Mission Statement

There hasn’t been a day where I’ve visited a 7Leaves without being greeted with a “Welcome!” and warm smile. I know what you guys are thinking…that’s standard customer service! But to my surprise, there are many stores/businesses that can’t even manage that. 7Leave’s customer service doesn’t end there; the cashiers often ask customers about their days and whether they need water or trash thrown away.

Insider Tip: befriend the workers to get discounts or even free drinks!

Their personalized attention helps establish long lasting relationships with customers that go beyond just the products. In regards to customer care, a little definitely goes a long way. I can’t speak for everyone, but you always leave 7Leaves happier than you arrived.

7Leaves giving back to the community

(C) As part of the near-sighted community, I definitely understand the struggle and impossibility of getting to your destination without clear vision. When I received my first pair of glasses, my whole world suddenly became high definition. In the same fashion, a clear vision provides companies with the clarity needed to effectively achieve their purpose. Let’s take a look at 7Leaves’ Mission Statement shall we?

“To enrich and embrace the human experience through our commitment to serve the very best coffee, tea, and goodness in every cup, in every community.”

Not only does it provide a clear picture of what the customer can expect, but it also establishes the tone for how the business should conduct itself. Alongside their mission statement, 7Leaves has also adopted the mantra

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

-Mahatma Gandhi

(D) Passion is an intense emotion, however without persistence its flame will eventually die. Founded in 2011, 7Leaves began from the passion of brothers and close friends in Vietnam. Without tenacity in the picture 7Leaves would have died in Little Saigon and never crossed into the states. Now there are locations all over California, in Nevada and Texas with plans on expanding eastward. The growth in customers and locations is a direct result of their commitment to the community and the cups that quench them. 7Leave’s passion is infused in their drinks, employees and locations allowing it to reach the heart of many communities and break barriers between cultures.

Find out more about 7Leaves!

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Dripp: the perfect brew

Dripp is a specialty coffee bar that brings back all the right elements for the perfect brew. In today’s time-starved world, convenience, efficiency and profit margins are the highest priority. Quality and warmth has been left somewhere in this assembly-line method of production. Nowadays, coffee is ordered strictly of routine with the only words exchanged being the order. At Dripp, this model is impressively replaced with passion, dedication and integrity as their main ingredients. They have mastered the art of anticipation with their commitment to hand-pouring each cup. Every sip reflects the quality of their raw materials and attentiveness to the personal satisfaction of each guest.

Why Dripp should be in everyone’s cups?

  1. Unrivaled passion and expertise for coffee.
  2. One cup fits all.
  3. I don’t need coffee, but I always want Dripp.
  4. All of the above

Chino Hills Location

Unrivaled passion and expertise for coffee

With Starbucks and Coffee Beans littered across every street in California, how does Dripp continue to flourish against unforgiving competition and the bias toward mass production? Specialization. While it’s undeniable that automation in production provides the highest profit margins, specialization done right can yield the same success with more effective customer satisfaction and loyalty. Simply put, Dripp focuses on its craft and delivers superior quality.

Story Time: Before I began enjoying coffee, a friend of mine dragged me along to Dripp. A combination of caffeine dependency and critical taste buds attracted him to Dripp. Out of curiosity, I ordered a latte for myself.

During this time in my life, I had coffee maybe once or twice a year. One sip in and I was left extremely unimpressed. My first impression and his endorsement for Dripp’s coffee could not be more opposite. Spoiler alert, it was me who did not understand the magic behind their specialized brews. Fast forward about a year or two, I would start my mornings with an occasional latte or brew (Thanks Corporate America). Inevitably an appreciation for coffee began to form, leading me back to Dripp. Equipped with my newfound appreciation for coffee, I ordered a Vanilla Latte and this time around I was unable to remove my lips from the cup.

There is an undoubtable difference between Dripp’s coffee and the competition’s. Whether you enjoy coffee or not, give Dripp a chance. The art of coffee-making is precious and its very essence is found in every dripp here.  

One cup fits all.

The presence at Dripp is captivating regardless of where the guest decides to indulge. In most cases, people will do anything to avoid being sat outside. However, at Dripp, the outside lounge area is often occupied by many customers. This area is shaded, but preserves the openness that accommodates every visitor. Once the sun starts to set, this area comes to life with cozy lighting, relaxing music and peaceful stillness.

A rustic contemporary ambience greets everyone who steps foot inside. To maximize occupancy Dripp offers two levels, but in order to secure a spot on the second floor luck has to be on your side. Whether you spend a few minutes or a whole day there, the visual appeal of the interior never becomes stale. Be careful though, you may plan for a short visit and find yourself there for hours.

Have a date, but don’t know where to go? Dripp. Need a place to study with caffeine readily available? Dripp. Looking for a cool and casual location to catch up with friends? Look no further. Searching for a cozy place to call home? You guessed it. That last one may have been an exaggeration, but you get the point. Any occasion is more enjoyable at Dripp.

Each box of coffee is uniquely designed.

I don’t need coffee, but I always want Dripp.

Two of the most powerful forces in the consumer market: needs and wants. While they both operate toward the same end goal, the customer is affected differently by each. Without getting into a complex discussion about economics and human behavior, the bottom-line: desire is more valuable than necessity for businesses. Consumers driven by need will satisfy it through the quickest and most convenient means. On the other hand, customers driven by wants bring loyalty and consistent business along with them. So which side of the market does Dripp appeal to? Hint: starts with a w.

Do I need coffee? Absolutely not. Do I want coffee? Yes, on many occasions, I do crave a cup or two. In a perfect world, whenever a coffee craving manifests I would go to Dripp. Don’t just take my word for it, go to the nearest location and savor every dripp.

Find out more about Dripp!
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