Restaurant Development & Design

September-October 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 6 5 of the energy. Too large can be more problematic than too small. If we're going to go big, we have to be really creative with the space. Also, large locations have higher rent." Tropical Smoothie can also scale up the smoothie bar for big spaces. "With the new prototype we launched a couple of years ago, we put the smooth- ies front and center so it's a bar — a butcher-block L-shaped bar with stools — so you can sit there and see people making the smoothies. So if we have room, I'd expand that and add more seats to it," Rotondo says. "It provides interaction with the brand and ups the perception of freshness." The bar could also be U-shaped to expand it, too, he adds. "I think we could find a way of engaging these spaces and making them just as special." It's really important to Tropical Smoothie, says Rotondo, "to be able to scale this and really accelerate the growth. We always felt we wanted to be able to go anywhere — in major markets, in tertiary markets — and if we say this is where we want to be, we don't want limitation of the space. Everything is scalable — even the size of the artwork on the walls, which is all the same but can be bigger or smaller." Modular Magic Checkers & Rally's was made famous through its iconic freestanding double drive-thru model, but it's expanded to every possible build-out option, from in malls with single drive-thrus and endcap drive-thrus to nontraditional locations in stores like Walmart and shopping malls. At the end of last year, the Tampa, Fla.-based company introduced its scal- able model 4.0, which is designed to provide a more streamlined, cost- effective and time-sensitive construc- tion process for new build-outs, allow- ing franchisees to choose from three design plans: a traditional on-site build, a new modular building (built off-site then trucked in) or an option that uses reclaimed shipping containers to form the external shell. All are the same size and layout. There are 852 restaurants in the Checkers & Rally's chain, and most are modular, says Jennifer Durham, chief development officer. "However, we evolved to build most of our restaurants on-site between 2010 and 2015 because the pricing of modulars got to be prohibitive," Durham explains. "But what the chain found was the same set of plans would have very different building costs depending on where in the country a restaurant was lo- cated — Chicago being more expensive than Mobile, Ala., for example. "So we went back to look at how to save money and came up with the 4.0 design. We now have the footprint and the general scheme of the restaurant we want to build, and we can build it in the three different ways." Since the modular buildings were last constructed by Checkers and Rally's, "to our great surprise and delight, the pricing had become much more competitive," Durham says. "It's considerably less than our previous modular design and also considerably less than the average cost of a 4.0 building. And we're finding the quality of the build is superior because it's done in a controlled environment." There's a big difference in cost in the three options: Unequipped, a mod- ular building costs around $270,000, a traditional site build is around $370,000 and a shipping container runs close to $340,000, though there is some variability site to site. Another benefit of the modular units is they are built faster — in eight weeks, four to six weeks faster than the traditional on-site builds. "We have a There are 852 restaurants in the Checkers & Rally's chain, and most are modular. Photo courtesy of Jeffery Scott Zipay

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