Looking Global, Acting Local

Steven P. Widoff

The Melting Pot has given guests more reasons to dip and dine, increasing frequency of visits and improving guest satisfaction.

The Melting Pot Restaurants
Headquarters: Tampa, Florida
Unit Count:
135, with three company-owned locations
2013 sales:
$220 million
Average unit volume:
$1.6 million
Average check:
$40 per diner

On the cusp of its 40th anniversary, The Melting Pot has hit its stride as a mature, national brand—and now it’s picking up the pace to become even more relevant in local markets and expand internationally. Mike Lester, president of The Melting Pot Restaurants, talks about the company’s strategies for growth, marketing, and customer engagement. Since joining the company in 2006 as vice president of restaurant operations and then taking the helm as president in June 2011, Lester has witnessed the loyalty of guests who return to The Melting Pot year after year, as well as the passion and dedication of franchisees who choose to grow with the brand. One of his first missions was to answer guests’ call for more reasons to visit The Melting Pot.

“There’s a lot of brand affinity for The Melting Pot, but our loyal guests weren’t visiting as often as we’d like,” Lester says—or for that matter, as often as they would like.

How often do the same guests return to Melting Pot?

Even though guests tend to return year after year, the frequency of visits for our loyal guests was just 1.8 times per year. We realized our guests wanted more reasons to dine with us more often, and we’ve given them that. For starters, we introduced a new menu in January 2013 that makes it easier for diners to eat less than a four-course meal if they choose, and this gives diners reasons to come to The Melting Pot on an everyday basis. And the new menu has worked: Already, guest frequency has increased from just 1.8 visits a year to 2.3 visits, and the number is growing.

How has that impacted your average check amount?

Interestingly, our average check of $40 per person hasn’t changed, and the average person still eats roughly 3.5 courses. Our most popular dishes are the cheese and chocolate fondue selections. Eighty percent of our guests order the cheese appetizer and 80 percent order the chocolate dessert—most restaurants would kill to have those statistics on appetizer and dessert orders.


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