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Foodservice News

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Nothing brings out the best in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry quite like The NAFEM Show. For three days it seems everyone is in the best possible mood while hobnobbing beneath NAFEM’s biennial big top. The burdens of business challenges seem to fade to the background as various new applications of stainless steel, melamine and even china have everyone forgetting the past, even for a moment — because, to paraphrase one-hit wonder Timbuk3: their future’s so bright they’ve gotta wear shades.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

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Labor costs usually represent the highest, or second highest, expense as a percent of sales for a restaurant. As such, proper labor management plays a critical role in driving better unit economics for a foodservice concept. If you buy into this principle, continue to read, and if you don’t then it is more important for you to continue to read on.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Casual Dining Sales Slow Down, the Sysco/US Foods Merger Continues to Draw Fire and More

Sales among casual restaurant chains slowed in March according to Knapp-Track. Job openings hit a 14-year high in February. Some states go on record opposing the Sysco/US Foods merger. An Oakland, Calif. minimum wage increase leaves some businesses unhappy. These stories and more in This Week in Foodservice.

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Pizza Patrón

One of the challenges any restaurant chain faces is fighting for locations. Dallas-based Pizza Patrón has found that creating a variety of business models not only generates site opportunities, but also increases profit potential.

Pizza PatronPizza Patrón is a 100-site chain that targets first generation Hispanics. Since it started franchising eight years ago, the chain has grown from four Texas stores to 100 locations in seven states. The standard store is a carryout pizza format geared for in-line, community-based shopping centers.

It wasn't until March 2004 that the chain's first Rapidito prototype debuted at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. This concept, which is only 500 to 700 sq. ft. in size, required the development of a completely different menu. "Those sales are geared toward individual purchases, such as personal-size pizzas and fountain drinks," says Andrew Gamm, Pizza Patrón's brand director.

Dine-in locations were added to the portfolio in May 2005 and now number 12 sites. "When we began looking for locations in smaller towns, we found the real estate was larger and the rents were cheaper, so we had an opportunity to become more of a destination for families," Gamm says.

To take the convenience factor up a notch, the first drive-thru Pizza Patrón opened in Grand Prairie, Texas, in May 2006. This was made possible by a joint venture with a conveyor oven manufacturer, which developed a custom attachment. "This cut our bake time from five-and-a-half to three minutes," Gamm says.

When Pizza Patrón created its first Quick Service Pizza (QSP) model in August 2008, it was the chain's first free-standing site. "With this concept, we get more community exposure and higher traffic patterns," Gamm says. "The brand awareness also is amped up with these models." As a result, the four QSP's are experiencing double the sales volume of its in-line sites.

Just a month after the first QSP debuted, Pizza Patrón opened its first concessions operation at Dallas' American Airlines Center. The success of this site garnered five more stands at the arena.

"We're very aggressive in finding as many opportunities as possible to get our brand out there and let people know who we are," Gamm says.

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1986
  • Headquarters: Dallas
  • Menu specialties: Chorizo topping, La Patrona pizza, La Mexicana pizza, La Hawaiana pizza, Lime-n-Pepper wings, Dulce de Leche filled Churros
  • Service model: QSR
  • Units: 100
  • 2010 sales: $39.2 million
  • 2010 growth: Sales increased 5 percent and the number of units increased by 5
  • Projected 2011 growth: Revenues expected to increase $2 million and the company plans to add 10 new units
  • Key expansion markets: Southern California, Chicago, Atlanta, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Texas
  • Typical location: Carryout restaurant in an inline strip center
  • Average unit size: 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 1,040 sq. ft.
  • Average covers per day: 102
  • Average check: $12.50
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $63,000–$74,000
  • Total unit cost: $199,000–$273,000

Key Players

  • President: Guillermo Estrada
  • Project Development Manager: Rikk Grant
  • Brand Director: Andrew Gamm
  • Operations Director: Ernesto Hernandez
  • Smallwares & Equipment: Next Day Gourmet
  • Food Distributor: Performance
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