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Chain LeaderEditorial Archives2005 — December — Restauratour

Lightening Up
Bojangles’ goes contemporary with natural finishes, muted colors and lots of light.

Take an online tour of Bojangles’

Being known as “fun and festive” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But after nearly 30 years of such a reputation, Bojangles’, the Charlotte, N.C.-based quick-service chicken chain, longed for a change.

So the concept previously known for its orange mansard roof and lively interiors performed what a popular women’s magazine calls a “makeunder.” The bright colors of Bojangles’ previous Mardi Gras design and QSR-style finishes gave way to quieter earth tones, a more muted shade of its signature orange, and upscale finishes such as wood and Italian-looking tile. The chain added booths to its dining room and made the restrooms bigger, with touch-free fixtures.

Outside, brick and stucco cladding and masonry towers give the restaurant a distinctive profile without making it unrecognizable.

That’s exactly what Bojangles’ executives had in mind. “We wanted to contemporize our building look but not eliminate the 25 to 28 years of heritage that we have,” explains Victor Webber, vice president of real estate and development.

David Maisel, a former Bojangles’ executive and now a franchisee of seven restaurants in South Carolina, including the East Aynor location featured in this story, concurs: “There was nothing wrong with the old look; it just wasn’t contemporary looking.”

Comfort Zone
Two years ago, customers spurred Bojangles’ into redesign action, Director of Franchising Chris Bailey says. Focus groups and research indicated that patrons considered Bojangles’ a destination restaurant, but at the same time noted that the interior didn’t quite feel like a destination location.


Bojangles’ Famous Chicken & Biscuits


East Aynor, S.C.
Opening Day
June 29, 2005
3,000 square feet
173 indoor, 20 on patio
Average Check
Unit Volume
$1.6 million
Expansion Plans

30 to 40 new stores; 4 to 7 corporate remodels in 2006

“They said, ‘We like a more comfortable restaurant’...someplace to conduct business, someplace to sit quietly with their families,” Bailey says.

To pull the dining rooms into the comfort zone, Webber added more light to the space in the form of bigger windows and glass block behind formerly dark areas such as the self-service beverage station. Glass block was installed in the kitchens as well, to make the workplace more employee friendly.

Webber replaced harsh finishes with softer ones. The metal railing at the serpentine ordering line is now a waist-high wooden wall. The Bojangles’ logo is an oval instead of a rectangle. The glass display case for chicken has a curved front instead of a square one, and food containers are a soft black, not stark stainless steel.

Trimming Here and There
The first new-look Bojangles’ opened just outside of Charlotte, in Fort Mills, N.C., about a year ago. Since then the prototype has undergone a few changes in the name of both operations and value-engineering, according to Bailey. The designers changed the position of the beverage stations and tinkered with how to integrate booths, a new seating element for the concept, into the floor plan.

Cutting costs fell to Clay Elder, founder and CEO of Charlotte-based EDS Architecture, Interior Design and Project Management. Elder cut back on several masonry elements including dramatic, high exterior towers and specified an all-wood frame, rather than a stainless-steel one, to trim building costs. Inside, comparison shopping helped cut costs: For instance, Elder saved $5,000 per store by choosing an American-made tile rather than Italian tile.

According to Webber, value engineering remains a work in progress: “If we could get 10 percent [more] out, we’d be happy.” The cost of the new building ranges from $700,000 to $900,000, Bailey says.

Credit Report
Bojangles’ has remodeled 18 restaurants and is pleased with the results. Check averages are $8.50 at the remodeled stores, compared to $4.50 at older locations. The company attributes the boost partly to the fact that the newer stores accept credit cards; credit-card purchases account for 35 percent of transactions. Unit volumes at franchised stores are growing by 2 percent annually; corporate stores are seeing double-digit growth, Bailey says. Bojangles’ plans to remodel four to seven corporate stores a year.

For Maisel, the best news of all is that the new look is pulling in new customers. “We’re getting a younger family audience that may not have tried Bojangles’ before,” he says. “Except for the pricing, you wouldn’t think you’re in a QSR.

“I built in a very small town,” Maisel continues, “and it’s the nicest restaurant in town.”

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