Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is gearing up this summer to launch Phase 2 of its menu overhaul on September 1.
The Tampa, Florida-based chain started examining its menu in May 2010, taking it apart and putting it back together again, says CEO Chris Elliott.
The first phase of the menu evolution came out in January. To get the ball rolling, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s focused on improving the quality of its ingredients.
“So we went from frozen tenders to fresh, hand-breaded chicken tenders, and from frozen steak burgers to fresh Angus burgers,” Elliott says. “These are much more expensive items so the challenge was putting them on the menu and looking at everything [on the plate] from the bun, the condiments, the fries, etc. to still have a competitively priced product. In both cases we had to take the price up.”
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is very sensitive about value, he explains, “but value is not simply the price you pay for something. So even if we had to take the price up, there was such an increase in quality that our core customers have not complained about the price increase. All they’ve noticed is how good the food is. You have to take the quality up so much that the price increase is not noticed.”
Phase 1.5 of the chain’s menu was unveiled in May. This tackled the lunch menu.
“We looked at what we needed to do to get more lunch business—our portions were not lunch portions; our prices were not lunch prices; and our speed wasn’t lunch speed. So with that in mind, we developed a menu that starts at 4.99 and the most expensive item is 7.99, which is our Angus burger.”
To come up with the new menu, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s executive team looked at what other popular lunch spots were doing. It now offers a half sandwich and salad or soup (like Panera Bread), which is now the best-selling lunch item, and chicken and vegetable rice bowls à la Chipotle
“We looked around at who’s doing a great job and they’re doing it because they’re offering portions and prices that are attractive,” Elliott explains. “We’re not trying to be fast food and that’s something we need to get our franchisees to understand—but crisp, quick service is what people want at lunch.”
Since May, lunch sales have grown from being around 25 percent of total sales to around 30 percent. Elliott would like to see that figure hit 40 percent.
So how did has the chain managed to speed up its service for lunch?
There were three components to this, Elliott explains. First, the chain set an expectation that lunch was going to be faster; secondly, all items on the menu are now easy to assemble and have to be quick; and third, the executive team began tracking ticket times to check speed of service. “Ten-minute service is our goal from taking order to food delivery,” Elliott points out.
Now lunch is attracting new faces as well as old ones, but what’s important, Elliott says, is “if you introduce a good new product or service, it creates a good aura and I think it affects all dayparts.”
Phase 2 of the menu evolution will see the introduction of a few popular lunch items—such as the rice bowls—on the dinner menu.
In September, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s will also launch a specialty beverage menu that will include milkshakes, flavored teas, smoothies and a cherry limeade cooler.
“We looked for areas of our menu that we hadn’t exploited and there was a lot of opportunity for us to step up our non-alcoholic beverages,” Elliot says.
By Amanda Baltazar