About Bullhearted Creative Co.


It’s our belief that the more people see and recognize beautiful, effective brand identity design, the more beautiful the world will become. Our goal is to exalt profound design in the restaurant, food and beverage, hospitality, and cannabis industries and the designers and agencies that produce it. Furthermore, we seek to fuel the thinking and the skills through writing articles, books, and creating tools that help make the job of brand strategy and identity design even more fun and effective for both clients and teams.


We’re always scouting out new designer and strategist minds to contribute their thoughts on the amazing restaurant, food and beverage, and hotel branding projects we curate. Spearheaded by founder, Joseph Szala, our current team is comprised of some fantastic thinkers. Here they are:

Picture of Joseph Szala

Joseph Szala

Founder, Lead Critic

Author, critic, strategist, designer, podcaster, and so much more. Joseph is a true lollapalooza who constantly seeks to push the envelope and build knowledge and insights for himself and those around him.

Picture of John Doe

John Doe

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Interested in contributing to the site with deep dive analysis and critiques? We’d love to hear from you!


The origins of Bullhearted can be traced back to 2003 when Joseph Szala graduated college with a degree in design. While searching for a job, he began accepting freelance and contract opportunities under the brand name, Vigor.

What started as a freelance practice rapidly grew into a full time studio. Over the course of 20 years, Joseph built Vigor into a well established restaurant branding and marketing agency.

The strength of Vigor was bolstered through the business’s ups and downs. Having braved The Great Recession by a thread, Joseph moved the practice to Georgia from Pennsylvania where he took up roles at a couple of agencies big and small. The experience fueled the strengthening of Vigor’s processes in both how to do things, and how not to do things.

In 2013, Joseph founded Grits & Grids, a now defunct restaurant branding blog. The blog quickly rose to top of the list in Google search results for “restaurant branding” and related searches. Establishing himself as a well-known critic of design within the restaurant, food and beverage, and hotel branding spaces, Joseph continued to grow his voice.

2014 brought forth the publication of his first book, Stop Blasting My Mama: Make Email Marketing Work for Your Restaurant. The book attracted multiple guest authors and served as a basis for growing Vigor’s practice.

Meanwhile, Grits & Grids spawned off a three season podcast where he interviewed the design industry’s best and brightest hitting high notes with interviews with Debbie Millman, Paula Scher, and Michael Beirut, to name a few.

In 2019, Szala launched a new podcast focused on the client-side of the restaurant industry. It’s named Forktales. Forktales attracted notable guests from Chef Scott Conant to restaurant industry mavericks and mavens alike.

2021 served as a true milestone for Mr. Szala as he penned and published the book The Bullhearted Brand: Building Bullish Restaurant Brands That Charge Ahead of the Herd.

The Bullhearted Brand was self published through the financial support of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $12,000. It also solidified Joseph’s alignment with the humble “bull” as a spirit animal of sorts.

Through all of this work, Joseph attracted the attention of journalists and editors in both the restaurant and the creative industries. He began speaking at events, supplying thought leadership to journalists, and even started penning his own articles for publications in renowned journals such as AdAge, QSR Magazine, and Nation’s Restaurant News.

The hype lead to the acquisition of Vigor by a larger agency who saw an opportunity to establish restaurant expertise as part of their portfolio. After about 18 months, Joseph defected from that company and joined the team at 3 Owl, Inc, serving as Vice President of Digital Experience.

Today, Joseph continues to grow the practice at 3 Owl and its newly launched restaurant focused wing, Rapturous, while building the ever-growing life and reach of the Bullhearted Creative Company brand.

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