Close watchdogs of restaurant industry trends observed that remodeling restaurants is a big sales driver these past few years.
That’s either by revitalizing an already close-to-being-worn-out brand or by introducing a new design and menu concept to stir-up brand growth.
Quick service Italian chain Fazoli’s has done this and noticed an immense difference. It has renovated a total of 114 units, out of its total of almost 250 in the past 18 months, following a brand repositioning plan which began in 2009. The plan, which they labeled Enhanced Service Program, or ESP, brought to a standstill years of sales declines and traffic deterioration. They have already begun updating unit decors with fast-casual strategies like food runners and real dishes. Once the revamped system is in place, their next phase is to reignite brand growth by bringing in a franchise push and opening outlets in nontraditional locations.
Fazoli’s chief executive Carl Howard says that “ESP is taking our brand at competition level with the other fast-food players in between being a first-rate veritable QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) and that of a fast-casual establishment. Our chefs in their elegant chef uniform bring in fresh menus that customers can do at home but would choose not to, since our food is a much better option — comparable to those from casual restaurants, but have better prices and enhanced convenience.”
The larger, more established chains, like McDonald’s, do not have room to expand to anymore outlets in the United States, or so they say. So their way to grow is to remodel their stores and add sales layers to it — its customers so they would frequent the outlets and spend more time in the place. They have already improved 1,800 of its more than 14,000 domestic outlets, and planning on remodeling 9,000 more. Such efforts are done alongside its Plan to Win program, which seeks to sustain growth by driving traffic, providing everyday value, introducing innovative menu items and re-visioning restaurant and marketing campaigns.
Wendy’s, too, doesn’t want to look like an everyday burger joint anymore. They have joined the growing trend, experimenting on new store designs, one of which includes coffee tables in their restaurants with comfy chairs and ottomans, glass walls, wood-grain dining tables and pullout chairs, fresh flowers and glass-enclosed fireplaces. They also plan to do a major revamp of their menus in the coming months, following their latest separation from Arby’s.
Burger King has rolled out the edgy, futuristic remodel of their restaurants as early as 2009, overhauling 12,000 locations worldwide. Their sleek interior decorations include chandeliers, brilliant TV screen menus and industrial inspired metal and brick walls. Sales have since then climbed to as much as 30%, substantiating the theory that restaurant remodeling does make adjustments to companies’ bottom lines. Their chefs in smart chef uniforms geared up their tools in the kitchen as they announced last month their intention of a total revamp of their menu and identity.
Darden Restaurants Inc. has jumped in too. They revealed their plans to refashion its Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster restaurants in the coming years. Olive Garden has announced its plan to renovate more than half of its 700 plus restaurants across the country in order to enhance its breadth of appeal and value to its consumers. LongHorn Steakhouse’s sales increased by 6.1% after some outlets have undergone restaurant redecoration and market re-imaging. Red Lobster, too, recovered from its meager performance the past years after its remodeling, and was said to have maintained a sales growth of 4% to 5%.