Akin to competitors, delivery is boosting revenue during Smokey Bones’ comeback. It partners with a number of vendors, including Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, Delivery Dudes, and EZ Cater.
The brand’s three most popular dishes are slow-smoked baby back ribs, the “create your own BBQ combo,” and half-pound burgers.
Gary Stibel, CEO of New England Consulting Group, based in Westport, Connecticut, says Smokey Bones has a good chance of rebounding from its doldrums. “The barbecue business is great to be in because it’s not nearly as competitive as hamburger, pizza or submarines. Most Americans love it,” he says.
But Smokey Bones fell into some early traps, Stibel says. “They overcomplicated the business. There were too many items on the menu. With that many items, it’s hard to deliver a consistently good experience.”
Stibel adds when the chain launched its firegrill approach the notion was novel and fueled its brand, but the impact faded.
He believes Smokey Bones should start thinking through a more innovative lens, such as offering plant-based meals, introducing a happy hour with small, shareable plates that attract millennials, and creative beverages.
Furthermore, its private equity owners need to expand the horizon and provide more than a three- to five-year timeframe to give it a chance to reinvigorate its brand, Stibel says.
He also expects recently named CEO O’Reilly to “simplify the menu, improve the quality of the product, have an innovative pipeline, and create a new marketing campaign that puts Smokey Bones back on the consumer’s consideration.”