• FE&S' 2014 DSR of the Year: Jason Sem

  • Designing for Multiple Generations

  • DSR of the Month, August 2014: Phil Blas, Smallwares Sales Manager Smith & Greene Co., Kent, Wash.

  • Crossings Restaurant in South Pasadena, Calif.

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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Meaningful Value: Innovation and Information Sharing

W hen the economy tanked seven years ago, innovation became the panacea that was going to cure everyone's fiscal ills. Business leaders and politicians tripped over each other in a race to the microphone to let everyone know they were ready to lead the charge toward innovation, which ultimately would spark the economic growth the U.S. so desperately needed to break free from its economic tailspin.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Designing for Flexibility: How Much Can You Afford Not to Do?

Many factors come into play when designing a restaurant. The décor and ambience represent obvious considerations but one design element many concepts fail to consider is building flexibility into the front-of-house, middle-of-house and back-of-house designs.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Operators Concerned about Sysco Merger, Unit Growth Flat and More

 

Consumers kept a tight grip on their wallets in July, according to the U.S. Commerce Department but restaurant sales kept chugging along. Also, the NPD Group provides an update on unit growth while another study finds foodservice management optimistic about the future though they expressed some concerns about the Sysco/US Foods merger.

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Greg Christian
Greg Christian

Outcomes for Year One of a New, Self-Op School Lunch Program

As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I'd like to share the final outcomes of Nardin Academy's new self-operated foodservice program.

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Sizzler USA

Think stodgy when you think Sizzler? Think again. The 53-year-old steak and salad bar chain has recently made big moves to contemporize its menu, its look and feel, even the ways it goes to market. It's all part of a recently launched turnaround strategy designed to bring the chain back into action as a compelling fast-casual choice.

Sizzler USAThe revamp starts with the menu, where fresh ingredients and from-scratch preparations are now the order of the day. Certified meat cutters cut fresh, USDA Choice tri-tip steaks in house. Burgers are fresh, not frozen. Fresh salmon and trout are offered and Sizzler's Endless Salad, Soup, Hot Appetizer and Dessert bar now features made-from-scratch soups, hand-tossed salads, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and breads and desserts baked in house. An Ultimate Value Menu bundles a steak, chicken or shrimp entrée with the salad bar for as low as $9.99.

A new interior prototype brings Sizzler's ambiance in line with its new food focus, says CEO Kerry Kramp. And new customer friendly initiatives such as an interactive ordering kiosk (in test), and a Weigh to Go takeout program, which lets guests pay for salad bar items by weight, are boosting sales. Since the 2009 unveiling of Sizzler's new prototype, 14 locations have implemented the new design resulting in sales increases ranging from 15 percent to 80 percent. Several more units are currently undergoing conversion.

Sizzler's even hitting the food truck space. One unit is in test and more are on the way. "It's a fun way to re-introduce people to Sizzler," says Kramp. "If they think we're cool enough to do great food on a food truck, they may think we're cool enough to check out our restaurants."

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1958
  • Headquarters: Culver City, Calif.
  • Menu specialties: Steak, seafood, salad bar
  • Service model: Fast-casual; family/casual
  • Units: 260 worldwide, 176 domestic
  • 2010 sales: $277 million
  • 2010 growth: Comparable store sales increased .03 percent systemwide
  • Key expansion markets: West Coast, Denver
  • Typical location: Freestanding restaurant
  • Average unit size: 5,000–6,500 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 1,800 sq. ft. (est.)
  • Average covers per day: 414
  • Average check: $11.95
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $350,000 (est.)
  • Total unit cost: $1.3 million (est.)
Key Players
  • President and CEO: Kerry Kramp
  • Chief Strategic Officer: Dennis Scott
  • Senior Director, Operations: Forbes Collins
  • Senior Director, Training and Safety: Khaled Bagul
  • Senior Director, Construction/Purchasing: Keith Ortiz
  • Director, Franchise Business Development: Mark Lyso
  • Food Distributor: U.S. Foodservice
  • Smallwares and Equipment Dealer: The Wasserstrom Company
  • Creative: Kovel/Fuller
  • Public Relations: Brad Ritter Communications
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