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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Food Delivery Up, Meal Kit Potential and More

What’s up with meal kits? More consumers are having restaurant meals delivered but there’s a catch. Dunkin’ Donuts cuts a major deal with BJ’s Wholesale club. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice

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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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