Mohseni says it’s imperative to note that Bob Evans has a “very broad” consumer base, contrary to what people may believe. The breakfast and lunch daypart comprise a younger demographic, and the company has capitalized on the opportunity, especially through off-premises channels. The number of guests per check has increased 10 percent, and the brand has seen a shift to a younger audience. Currently, roughly 70 percent of guests are under 54 years old, including a seven-point increase in the 35- to 44-year-old demographic.
Although Bob Evans is attracting a new crop of customers, it’s not doing anything to alienate or oppose the wishes of its core consumers. As Holtcamp explains, the chain is using similar occasions and product innovations to attract both new and old customers.
“We're really using one stone to go after two birds, if you will,” Holtcamp says.
Among the menu innovations are Fresh Berry dishes that pair Bob Evans’ farm-fresh breakfasts and salads with vine-ripened and hand-picked strawberries. Examples include Fresh Berry Farmer’s Choice Breakfast, Fresh Berry French Toast, Summer Berry Salad, and more. All of the items are available through the end of August. The chain followed up that announcement by introducing new “Pick 2 Combos” for lunch and dinner. New choices include four half-size salads and one half-size sandwich.
In the fall, Bob Evans will introduce Avocado Chicken, Avocado Omelet, and some other items.
“Our core guest is very interested in new things from Bob Evans,” Holtcamp says. “So those are examples of bringing something new that definitely will appeal to a younger audience or someone who doesn't use us today. But they also very much excite and delight our existing user who just is always looking for something new. That's the way in which we are looking at it. We're innovating down paths where Bob Evans has great credibility. That allows us to satisfy our core guest as well as new guests.”
To Mohseni, balancing simplification and innovation comes down to one simple fact: Bob Evans isn’t offering fewer choices—it’s selling more quality selections. For instance, the chain used to have bone-in chicken, grilled chicken, and chicken breasts. However, the bone-in option was removed and the chicken was upgraded for use in multiple areas like the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and the $7.99 Dinner Bell Plates menu.
“Just so happens nearly 90 percent of all the chicken that people are eating out there is not bone-in chicken,” Holtcamp says. “So we satisfied consumers with multiple different options and simplified the operations right at the restaurant.”