mercer hospitality

je suis leo

roaring into a new era with Leo the lion


bistrot leo




Art Direction, Branding, Copywriting, Concepts, Creative Direction, Graphic Design, Identity, Naming, Strategy

creative direction: fabrice frere, michelle keller
design: fabrice frere, michelle keller
special thanks: cameron roby-mais
production: planetfab studio

Bistrot Leo, previously known as Sessanta, located at 60 Thompson in Soho, bid farewell to its past life, paving the way for a new era. Emerging from this transformation is a French restaurant that captures the essence of a traditional Parisian bistro. Bistrot Leo not only offers classic French cuisine but also boasts a stylish and cozy interior that perfectly complements its new identity.

Owner and restaurateur, John McDonald, approached us with a singular goal: to infuse every aspect of the restaurant with unmistakable French character. To bring this vision to life, we sought to create a truly unique brand identity—a mascot of sorts—with character and personality. Thus, the concept of Leo, the ‘flâneur’ Lion, was conceived to embody the charm, elegance, and playfulness synonymous with French culture.

Leo the Lion became the focal point for developing the strategy to create the brand’s distinctive identity, bringing the ethos of Bistrot Leo to life on everything from logos to collateral, signage, and graphics.

Our initiative also extended beyond design; we curated and created original artwork that spoke to French culture and iconic moments, perfectly matching Leo’s persona. We aimed to enhance the restaurant’s ambiance with all things French, curating a unique and unforgettable experience. Original artwork featuring Leo throughout his illustrious life—an autographed photo as an astronaut capturing his intrigue and worldliness—was crafted. Etchings of Leo enjoying life’s simple pleasures in various settings were fashioned, creating exclusive and one-of-a-kind pieces. Throughout the restaurant, we adorned the walls with pictures and drawings of Leo, ensuring that every corner resonates with the playful spirit of the ‘flâneur’ lion.

Our branding for Bistrot Leo is a fresh visual identity that resonates with its audience. Leo, the Lion, stands as a pinnacle of French elegance, symbolizing the timeless and trend-setting flair that defines Bistrot Leo.

Original Artwork

In our pursuit of crafting exclusive pieces of art, we fashioned a portrait of Leo – a captivating figure renowned for his intrigue and worldliness. This artwork is a testament to our commitment to producing one-of-a-kind creations. In the portrait, we see Leo dedicating it to the restaurant owner, enhancing its uniqueness with a personal touch.


As part of the brand identity, we created original artwork based on late nineteenth century gravure imagery. These four pieces feature Leo in various settings, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

“There are so many moving parts to consider when launching a new restaurant, that it’s a relief to have a team dedicated to crystalizing a cohesive brand identity and a message that will cut through the noise and will resonate with our customers. Working with PlanetFab Studio is a no brainer: They bridge smart design & creativity, with a constant collaborative approach.”
John McDonald

stuck in the status quo?