Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2019

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

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 • 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 • 2 3 Faster fry times translates into less oil-to-water migration. Our signature menu items, like our battered sh, are lighter and crispier. We are also seeing increases in fry oil yields. We've also been able to reduce the tonnage of our air conditioning and reduce the air volume of our exhaust fans by approximately 350 cubic feet per minute. These benets result in a signicant ongoing savings for us and our franchisees. Though our goals included efciency and lower construction costs, our overarching desire is to always serve the best food possible. We've achieved our goals through continual innovation and successful collaboration with forward- thinking manufacturers. Additionally, we've been success- ful in partnering with utility companies to incentivize our franchisees to retrot or build new with countertop electric fryers. Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority currently have incentive programs with us. Do you have to commit to buying a certain number of these products from the manufacturer? LJ: No, because we both went into this project based on prior relationships and the belief that if we came up with some- thing that could be industry altering, we would both benet. I do ask for one year of exclusivity in the marketplace in exchange for the intellectual property we bring to the collaboration. Manufacturers are usually happy to do that. Obviously, this has a great outcome because we have committed to this on all new builds. You have saved labor under your new model. Have you eliminated positions? LJ: We've taken the labor efciencies and re-invested them into guest-facing positions such as cashiers and servers to enhance the customer experience. We're doing our best to become more efcient in preparing meals so we can keep our focus on delivering great hospitality. We're not trying to take labor out; rather, we are seeking to moderate rising costs and enhance service by building an invit- ing, more efcient facility. Describe your new smaller-footprint prototype. LJ: The Mach 1, our new prototype, can now operate from 0.7 of an acre. We used to need about an acre and a half. We accomplished this through a combination of taking out some seats and reducing the size of the kitchen. Now, our average restaurant size is 1,950 square feet; previously, it had been 2,800 or more. It's hard to cut the proportional amount of the kitchen to the overall building size, espe- cially when dining rooms are becoming smaller. Our end result, however, is a kitchen that's roughly 35 percent of the building compared to the previous 50 percent or more. The Mach 1 features 16 tables and 44 seats in the dining room, whereas our previous prototype had upwards of 84 or 86 seats. We focused on occupancy and average party size, not just seat count. We changed the mix of tables, adding two-tops in place of four-tops, overall optimizing dining room space, consid- ering people sit at tables, not chairs. The building can be easily modied to enlarge the dining room should dine-in demographics warrant. Will these be used in all new builds? LJ: Yes. This year, we will complete more than 25 new restaurants. Most will feature the Mach 1 design, depending on when the project starts. All future ground-up construction will feature the countertop electric fryers and Mach 1 building design. Are you retro•tting restaurants to feature the electric fryers? LJ: We're retrotting in a limited way because in most cases, it requires an electrical service upgrade. Another challenge in a retrot is that the average Captain D's has seven fryers, and switching from gas fryers re- quires replacing all seven. However, you rarely have a situation where you need to replace all seven at once. We're doing some retrots by taking into consider- ation the overall volume of the restaurant with the ROI and any electric company incentives we have available. Can you give me a little background on yourself — how you ended up in this position at Captain D's and what you like about your role? LJ: I'm enjoying my eighth year at Captain D's, and I was with Cracker Barrel for 20 years before that as vice president of innovation. I've always been interested in the design side of restaurants. I started my career in restaurant operations at the unit level, and I've always been fasci- nated by work˜ow, equipment design, internal processes and how employees integrate with equipment. I've been very fortunate that my insatiable curiosity and meager talents have allowed me to enjoy meaningful work. I'm not an engineer by trade, or a contrac- tor — just an operator who has a bit of mechanical sense and is always trying to make things better, faster and easier. + Captain D's worked with a manufacturer to reimagine their refrigeration and fryers. Image courtesy of Captain D's

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