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Old Shoney’s Unveils New Restaurant Prototype

Shoney's in-mall prototype in Lawrenceville, Georgia
Sugarloaf Mills Mall prototype in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Photo/Shoney's

LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia – Shoney's revealed a new smaller prototype on Thursday. Shoney's chairman and CEO David Davoudpour calls it a return to "Glory Days." The casual dining buffet chain with liquor service has 165 restaurants in 16 states, of which 100 are franchised.

The smaller 3,500 square foot prototype in the Sugarloaf Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, Georgia features cooked-to-order entrees, seasonal buffets, full liquor service as well as a quick take out service.

"This has as much historic implication as the very first Shoney's in 1947," said Davoudpour of the prototype's grand opening on Thursday.

"To be doing a smaller footprint of a family-style buffet now is about fifteen years too late," says restaurant unit analyst, John Gordon of San Diego-based Pacific Management Consulting Group. Gordon refers to the heyday of Shoney's in 1998, when it had over 1,300 restaurants. It was even once listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1971, "SHO." That was before the franchisor went bankrupt in 2000. It was sold and then sold again.

But Shoney's says this is the first iteration of its restaurants meant for the inside of a mall. Since acquiring Shoney's in December 2006, Davoudpour has been on a driven and spirited mission to revitalize and reinvigorate Shoney's family-friendly, southern style restaurants.

Davoudpour stated, "We have developed a Shoney's with more choices that appeal to everyone. We are very excited to bring the Shoney's brand with some new never-before-seen features, all under one roof, to Sugarloaf Mills." The mall prototype will seat 107 guests. That's smaller than its typical stand-alone buffet restaurant of 4,500 square feet.

"New generations have moved on while other types of restaurants have been able to eat into Shoney's marketshare," says Gordon. He thinks the family buffet restaurants have been particularly hard hit. "This market has died," he says.

Blue MauMau asked Shoney's what the average unit volume was for an average Shoney's restaurant and what sales volume this prototype might expect. It was also asked for estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) profits. The company spokesperson replied to Blue MauMau: "As a private company, we do not disclose financial information, even anecdotally."

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email