• Focusing on Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers

  • Game Changers in Healthcare Foodservice

  • Facility Design Project of the Month: Woodland Café and Kitchen Renovation at Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights, Ill.

  • DSR of the Month: Michael Wahl, Sales Representative, TriMark SS Kemp, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Blog Network

jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Healthcare Foodservice Rolls with the Changes

Ask healthcare foodservice professionals about some of the challenges that keep them up at night and they will try to tell you their businesses are much like other industry segments. And, in a sense, they are right.

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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

Casual-Dining Sales Still Soft, Barnes and Noble Upgrades Its New Cafes and McDonald’s Stresses Expediency

Social interaction is just as important as the food to many restaurant patrons. Restaurant brands support supermarket offerings. Fast feeders have improved their satisfaction rating with consumers. New Barnes & Noble stores will have much larger cafes and menus. McDonalds is stressing urgency over perfectionism. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice.

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Chain Innovators: Straw Hat Pizza

While many chains continue to downsize their footprints, 57-year-old Straw Hat Pizza takes the opposite route. A new prototype features bigger stores with a contemporary look and feel, a bigger, more diverse menu, and in-restaurant Tower 27 frozen yogurt stations — a whole new self-serve branded "concept within a concept" that's helping to drive incremental sales growth.

Straw Hat Pizza"We went from an average of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet in the old units to 4,000 to 5,000 square feet in the new prototype. And we completely re-did our décor," says president Jonathan Fornaci. "It's much more upscale, with earth tones and leather. At the same time, we kept to our core values, which are very family- and community-focused." All Straw Hats include a roughly 200-sq.-ft. arcade room for kids, and all new units have TVs throughout, both on the walls and at the booths."

Fornaci says that the new prototype has lower opening costs — $100,000 to $250,000 — compared to the old units, which ran $350,000 to $500,000. Some of the biggest savings have been realized in décor and equipment, which franchisees are encouraged to buy used.

On the menu, Straw Hat's signature pizzas are now joined by a "grill" menu, including burgers and other grilled sandwiches, steaks, seafood and made-to-order pasta dishes. The change has broadened the chain's appeal, boosting traffic and repeat visits. Tower 27, so far implemented in seven stores and being rolled out in all new units going forward, adds a fun, self-serve dessert option and builds sales between traditional meal periods. "Pizza is still 60 percent of our total revenue, and always will be our core and our signature, but the changes we're making are about offering diversity and different options for both adults and families."

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1954
  • Headquarters: San Ramon, Calif.
  • Menu specialties: California crust pizza, signature MasterPizzas, Hot Hat stuffed sandwiches, salad bar
  • Service model: Family-style casual dining, takeout, delivery
  • Units: 81 (99% franchised)
  • 2010 sales: $55.4 million
  • 2010 growth: Revenue grew by 20.3 percent, units by 13.5 percent
  • Projected 2011 growth: 15.2 percent revenue increase, 14.7 percent increase in units
  • Key expansion markets: Nevada, Montana, Texas, Illinois and D.C. metro area
  • Typical location: Freestanding restaurant or strip center/shopping center end cap
  • Average unit size: 4,000–5,000 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 850–1,200 square feet
  • Average covers per day: 162 to 204, depending if the unit has a lunch buffet
  • Average check: $18.30
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $94,000–$132,000
  • Total unit cost: $211,000–$392,000, including $35,000 franchise fee

Key Players

  • President: Jonathan Fornaci
  • Vice President of Operations: Allen Strege
  • Smallwares & Equipment Dealer: East Bay Restaurant Supply
  • Food Distributors: Roma Foods, Food Services of America
  • Marketing: Duke Marketing 
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