Cover Story: Manning the Grill
CEO Shannon Foust is overhauling Columbus, Ohio-based Damon's Grill to protect and build its volumes. In an attempt to grow same-store sales and EBITDA while keeping protein, land and labor costs down, Damon's is broadening the menu, lowering prices and implementing a new prototype. Taken together, the 133-unit company contends that the changes have pushed volumes to an average $2.8 million annually.
Storyboard: Grand Gestures
CKE Restaurants Inc.'s Carl's Jr. and Hardee's know how hard it is for a brand to create headlines on its own. So they decided to borrow them. Taking advantage of the presidential election season, Hardee's and Carl's Jr's new 30-second spot features Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Colin Powell and even President George W. Bush using hand gestures to illustrate the large size of Hardee's Thickburger and Carl's Jr.'s Six Dollar Burger. CKE believes that the irreverent approach of the ad is a good fit with the young audience Hardee's and Carl's Jr. seek.
Restauratour: All Fired Up
Repositioning itself from Americanized takeout to Pan-Asian dine-in and takeout, Pick Up Stix has developed a new look centered around the wok, the literal and figurative symbol for Asian cooking. More than a mere remodel, the San Clemente, Calif.-based chain's newest unit in North Corona, Calif., features a new palette of fiery red and gold, an expansive layout, and Pan-Asian details such as bamboo that give the store a warm, homey feeling. As a result of the changes, the North Corona store is on track to gross $1 million annually.
Toque of the Town: A Walk on the Wild Side
Eddie Matney, one of Arizona's most famed chefs, splits time between his namesake fine-dining venue in Scottsdale, Ariz., and his growing fast-casual chain, Wild Noodles. Matney applies his fine-dining skills at 12-unit Wild Noodles with dishes that travel Asia, America and Italy with some regional spins. According to the company, Matney's combination of ethnic eclecticism and bold and zesty flavors is directly responsible for Wild Noodles' fast franchise growth: Thirty-five units will open in 2005, with up to 500 scheduled to open in five years.
Food Safety: Eat Responsibly
Steak-Out Char-Broiled Delivery, the 70-unit, Norcross, Ga.,-based delivery and takeout chain, rolled out packaging that contains refrigeration and reheating information for leftovers this year. Aftan Romanczak, director of research and development and purchasing, helped develop the program after learning that one in four Americans didn't set their refrigerators to the proper temperature and 89 percent don't know what the internal temperature of meat should be. The new packaging should reach the 7 million to 10 million people who will have Steak Out's steaks, burgers, chicken-breast fillets, sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes.
Editorial: Accidental Inspiration
The Bernstein Perspective: Leadership Training