Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 2018.

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

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Heeding the Call Fast-Casual 4 8 • 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 • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 quality. Some customers may expect a step down in quality in a fast-casual con- cept; instead of meeting these lowered expectations and damaging the overall brand, the food at the new concept should be at least as good. Companies developing a fast-casual brand should set that goal and stick to it, Smith says. The approach can actually ben- efit the parent brand, he notes. For its burger, Hurricane BTW uses a ¼-pound beef patty, chosen for its faster cook- ing time than the parent's half-pounder. The smaller patty proved so popular that it is now a popular part of the casual concept's lunch menu. Similarly, some menu items at Willie Jewell's have been so popular that they've been brought over to Bono's, says Martino. The issue of protecting the parent concept extends beyond reputation and into dollars and cents. Wouldn't two res- taurants with shared branding and menu offerings end up competing against each other? Couldn't what's perceived as suc- cess actually just be money moving from one pile to another? Short answer: Yes. How to keep that from happening? Geography. In the case of Willie Jewell's parent Bono's, the company decided not to open any fast-casual restaurants in Duval County, Fla., where most Bono's are located. For Hurricane BTW, geography is also key. While the company hasn't ruled entire counties off-limits, its formula is al- most as simple. Know the radius existing casual-dining stores need to thrive, Smith says, and then stay out of that radius. A related, and more difficult ques- tion, Smith adds, is how to divide up development territories. This takes care- ful analysis of factors like the market's demographics, competing concepts and available real estate, then choosing which concept has the best chance to succeed based on those factors. At that point, success requires the company stick to its guns. "If you've made a bet that this is where you put a Hurricane Grill, then you protect the radius of the market they need to support their business. You don't put a BTW in their playing field." Stick To It While establishing a fast-casual concept is a challenge, everyone interviewed agreed it was also a fun and energiz- ing exercise — "like a B-12 shot in the arm," says Martino. The fun, though, shouldn't distract from the end game: developing a long- term successful brand that's profitable for the company, its employees and its partners. Doing this takes real vision, commitment and courage in a time when companies live and die by quarterly earnings reports and comparable sales reported monthly. "A lot of guys jump into it," says Chissler. "It's exciting, but it's a lot of work. You have to be committed to the goals you want to achieve. Then, you have to provide the resources and the people resources to do it right." + Hurricane BTW's design is inspired by modern surf shops, reflecting the Millennial guests it hopes to attract. Parent concept Hurricane Grill & Wings has an older demographic and a beach shack design. Image courtesy of Hurricane Grill & Wings Willie Jewell's is designed like a traditional barbecue joint, inside and out. Through a story wall on the interior, the chain makes its connection to Bono's Pit Bar-B-Q clear. Image courtesy of Logan Bowles

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