At Lawry's, guests get hooked early thanks to a Junior Carver Program.
With competition fierce, every restaurant is looking for ways to inspire loyalty from its customers. Lawry's the Prime Rib—Chicago decided to start at the beginning. The company created the Junior Carver Program, a loyalty program that focuses on children.
Lawry's, which has 12 locations, eight of which are international, was founded in 1938 in Beverly Hills by Lawrence Frank and his brother-in-law Walter Van de Kamp. Frank, whose family was in the butcher business, moved to California from Milwaukee. The two men went into business making potato chips. During this time, Frank developed a salt for the chips that proved to be a great hit. Frank and Van de Kamp took the proceeds from the salt business and opened Lawry's.
The concept behind the restaurant was Frank's grandmother's Sunday dinner. "Sunday dinner was very special to Lawrence, and he thought others would enjoy it as well," says Shannon Tauschman, sales and marketing manager at Lawry's Chicago location. Tauschman describes the founders of Lawry's as “showmen,” and their goal was to make eating out at the restaurant an experience.
From the founding of the restaurant, the experience was meant to include children. Frank strove to create an environment that could expose children to a classic and elevated restaurant experience and help to develop the family experience within out-of-home dining. It was this idea that inspired Tauschman to create the Junior Carvers program.
Part of the showmanship/experience at Lawry's is its unique style of service—much is done tableside. This includes the spinning bowl salad and the carving of the prime rib. The prime rib is brought to the table in a 700-pound solid stainless steel cart. Once the cart is tableside, employees hand carve the prime rib and put it directly onto the customer's plate. "The carver's love the children, and the children love the cart," Tauschman says.
Lawry's already has a successful frequent dining VIP program for adults. It includes a point for every dollar spent (at 250 points, VIP members get a $25 dining reward) and double points on birthdays and anniversaries, which is typical. But Lawry's flare for showmanship takes the VIP program a step further. All guests who dine at Lawry's on a special occasion have a maroon congratulations celebratory ribbon draped tableside, a personalized hand-signed card from everyone at Lawry's, and a complimentary raspberry trifle. VIP members get all this plus personalized Lawry's seasoned salt and pepper shakers sent to their home.