The company’s increased hiring initiatives, however, are another sign of its brand health, Colosi said. The fact is Texas Roadhouse continues to grow, in size, and in regards to traffic at the unit level.
“It's a big reason why we've even got a whole hiring initiative going, because we're planning on continuing to grow traffic, and we need a lot of people to help us manage all this traffic we got. So we're full steam ahead,” he said.
Texas Roadhouse is already off to a sizzling start in the fourth quarter. The company said same-store sales are up 5.3 percent in the first four weeks. They expect to open 26 or 27 company restaurants in 2017, including four Bubba’s 33 locations. In 2018, Texas Roadhouse plans to open 30 company restaurants.
“As we look to 2018, the game plan is really the same,” said Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse’s CEO. “[We are] staying focused on growing sales through our commitment to legendary food and legendary service and maintaining our everyday value.”
Texas Roadhouse announced during the call that its mobile app is fully rolled out across the country now. Additionally, online ordering capabilities are live at every location.
Yet, the chain remained steadfast on where it wants to direct guests: to the four walls of its actual restaurants.
To-go sales are accounting for about 6 percent of sales, Colosi said, but Texas Roadhouse would “much rather folks come in and dine inside the four walls and get that legendary experience that we think we offer our guests, including the legendary atmosphere.”
In response, Texas Roadhouse isn’t pushing to-go through any sort of advertising campaign. The company does, however, recognize it can’t ignore it. The to-go packaging has been changed up and the online platform makes it much easier for guests who do elect for the service to take out meals.
“But ultimately, we're not trying to build a lot of incrementality in our business longer term by pushing to-go,” he said. “We want to build incremental sales primarily by getting people inside the four walls.”