World's Largest Up In Smoke

CORPORATE CHAIN UP IN SMOKE & SALE THE BONES 

Darden Restaurants, Inc. is the world's largest casual dining restaurant company (based on market share, sales (5.7 Billion) and number of company-owned and operated restaurants). They operate some 1,400 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Seasons 52 restaurants in North America, employing more than 150,000 people who serve 300 million meals annually. All of Darden's restaurants are company-owned, and Darden offers no franchise opportunities in the U.S.

On Saturday May 5th Darden announced the closure of 56 of it's 129 Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill Restaurants.   They wasted no time, in closing them over the weekend.  "That leaves us with 73 vibrant, profitable locations, and we will put them up for sale as one restaurant company," said Darden spokesman Joe Chabus. 

More than 4,000 employees worked at the closed restaurants, and all are being given the opportunity to transfer to other Darden locations.  With more than 160,000 employees, Darden is the 25th largest employer in the U.S.

The 73 remaining locations are all east of the Mississippi River.  Chabus said Smokey Bones simply did not perform well in the Southwest or in Texas.  Prior to the closure and decision to sale, Darden had been testing the possibility of converting some units to a new format called Rocky River Grillhouse, featuring fire-grilled foods. 

According to Chabus, the barbecue chain's sales had fallen below Darden's other brands and had contributed a loss of 8 cents per share to the company's earnings in its 2006 fiscal year. For 2007, the company had been projecting a loss of 10 cents per share from the concept.

Clarence Otis, Darden Chairman and CEO said "Darden is doing the difficult things required to grow.  The Smokey Bones reastaurants which remain open form a viable business, but one that is not consistent with Darden's vision of a national restaurant concept.

Its been rumored for many months now that Darden might be in the market to buy a restaurant chain with high growth potential.  On Monday Otis reinforced the rumor by making it clear that buying a string of restaurants that fits its casual-dining business would be part of their growth strategy.  

On Monday Investors seemed to support Darden's decisions and plans by sending the stock up 5.3 percent to close at $45.51 and then on Tuesday closed up another 12-cents.  JP Morgan Analyst John Ivankoe said an acquistion would be a positive step for the chain if it makes a good choice.  "We believe management will be prudent in its acquisition and expansion activities as it recognizes the role that premature development played in Smokey Bones failure," Ivankoe said in a note to investors. 

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Comments

Lessons from Darden's!

Although Darden's is not a Franchisor or Franchisee, there are several key and relative points.

  1. Not All Concepts Work.
  2. Of those Concepts that Do Work, they may not work everywhere.
  3. You can never be too big, or to successful, to fail.
  4. Premature development can cause failure, and as a prospective franchisee looking at 'Hot New Concepts' you must evaluate 'Premature development' which is not necesarily the same as Rapid Expansion.
  5. Your never too BIG to make the business decision to cut a losing concept.  So if and when looking at a concept within the portfolio of a large multi-brand franchisor, you must not veiw the success of the parent to equate into success for the child.

Anyone want to bet that a franchisor will acquire the 73 Smokey bones and then begin selling nationally? 

Believe & Succeed,Dale FranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!

Lessons from Darden's!

Although Darden's is not a Franchisor or Franchisee, there are several key and relative points.

  1. Not All Concepts Work.
  2. Of those Concepts that Do Work, they may not work everywhere.
  3. You can never be too big, or to successful, to fail.
  4. Premature development can cause failure, and as a prospective franchisee looking at 'Hot New Concepts' you must evaluate 'Premature development' which is not necesarily the same as Rapid Expansion.
  5. Your never too BIG to make the business decision to cut a losing concept.  So if and when looking at a concept within the portfolio of a large multi-brand franchisor, you must not veiw the success of the parent to equate into success for the child.

Anyone want to bet that a franchisor will acquire the 73 Smokey bones and then begin selling nationally? 

Believe & Succeed,Dale FranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!

BBQ May Be A Southern Thing

I'm getting another take on this story after thinking about it. There is something bigger at work than just selling a non-performing BBQ concept. Darden announced that it sold Smokey Bones because it doesn't have a national future. At the same time, Darden announces that it will use the money from the sale to look for a national food concept.

And Wall Street investors cheer. But what is the message?

Remember all those Southern BBQ franchisors with visions of expanding across North America? (Think Shane's Rib Shack.)  Darden's decision to sell Smokey's sends a message from one of the industry's largest restaurant players that BBQ is largely a southern thing with a limited future nationwide. And it would appear that sub-sections of the south like their own version of what BBQ should be.

Regional BBQ franchisors and restaurant chains are paying attention.

Famous Dave's Zee to be Zor?

Smokey Bones tinkers with its menu

ORLANDO , Fla. (Jul. 16) With almost half its units shuttered and the rest up for sale, Smokey Bones Barbecue & Grill is continuing to tinker with its menu, perhaps in an attempt to make it more attractive to potential buyers. The Darden Restaurants-owned barbecue chain, which had been trying to reposition itself as more of a broad-menu grill concept, has added a ribs item and said it is working on possible other additions.

The 73-unit chain said the new brown Sugar Glazed Baby Back Ribs is the first limited-time offering in its eight-year history.

Smokey Bones spokesperson Joe Chabus confirmed that the chain is still for sale. When asked if the new offering was an attempt to increase the brand's attractiveness to potential buyers, he deflected the question. “We are just taking a popular recipe – our slow hickory-smoked Baby Back Ribs – and making it more successful,” he said.

Chabus said that company chefs are testing other items as possible LTO's, the first phase of what he described as an effort to improve and expand the company’s barbecue offerings.

READ MORE 

P.S. I've heard through the Grapevine that several of the closed Smokey Bones locations have been purchased by way of a closed bid.  I wonder if this could be related? 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Famous Dave's Zee to be Zor?

Smokey Bones tinkers with its menu

ORLANDO , Fla. (Jul. 16) With almost half its units shuttered and the rest up for sale, Smokey Bones Barbecue & Grill is continuing to tinker with its menu, perhaps in an attempt to make it more attractive to potential buyers. The Darden Restaurants-owned barbecue chain, which had been trying to reposition itself as more of a broad-menu grill concept, has added a ribs item and said it is working on possible other additions.

The 73-unit chain said the new brown Sugar Glazed Baby Back Ribs is the first limited-time offering in its eight-year history.

Smokey Bones spokesperson Joe Chabus confirmed that the chain is still for sale. When asked if the new offering was an attempt to increase the brand's attractiveness to potential buyers, he deflected the question. “We are just taking a popular recipe – our slow hickory-smoked Baby Back Ribs – and making it more successful,” he said.

Chabus said that company chefs are testing other items as possible LTO's, the first phase of what he described as an effort to improve and expand the company’s barbecue offerings.

READ MORE 

P.S. I've heard through the Grapevine that several of the closed Smokey Bones locations have been purchased by way of a closed bid.  I wonder if this could be related? 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Betting Franchisor Acquires Smokey

It's just a guess at this point, but my bet is with FranSynergy - a franchisor will acquire the remaining 73 Smokey Bones corporate restaurants.

The new company will need to get the food and the business model right. There are many times in which food is blamed for a restaurant's failure when it is actually the business structure that is at fault.

Too true

Unfortunately, Smokey Bones is an excellent concept, although I can understand if it does not appeal to everyone. Their cornbread with pecan butter sauce is divine. Here's to hoping that any subsequent purchaser does not toy with the recipes.

Too true

Unfortunately, Smokey Bones is an excellent concept, although I can understand if it does not appeal to everyone. Their cornbread with pecan butter sauce is divine. Here's to hoping that any subsequent purchaser does not toy with the recipes.

BBQ FRANCHISES

Richard Solomon

www.FranchiseRemedies.com

There have been only a very few successful BBQ franchisess.This may sound nutso to most of you, but I have a specific feeling that BBQ is different from everything else in the world. I'm not joking at all when I suggest that BBQ isn't a business in the regular sense of what business is all about. If you want to understand BBQ, you need to look at it as a religion. That's right. It's like going to church.

And religion doesn't lend itself to one size fits all. People in the southeast don't eat what we eat here in Texas. Yet each of us will fight anyone who shows up over our contention that our BBQ is the only real BBQ and that your BBQ shouldn't be fed to a dawg.

You don't see Catholics attending synagogue, and Jews don't know how to say the Rosary. BBQ is just like that.

Now if franchising is about replicating a concept across a broad geographic area - like the whole United States - BBQ just doesn't seem to cut the mustard/fit the pistol. While some religions travel well (at least in the USA), BBQ doesn't.

Of course it's all BS, but when it comes to BBQ, BS is reality. And you should also consider that BBQ people aren't like everyone else. BBQ people will stand out in a driving freezing rain (as in the Memphis BBQ cook off each April)just to "watch their meat".

I know you all think I'm just an old Texas whacko, but I have come to the personal conclusion that this is why BBQ franchises so seldom make it.

BBQ: The real Finger Lickin Food!

Being a fellow Texan, although displaced in Alabama, I agree with Richard regarding Bar-B-Que.
In Texas BBQ is all about THE BEEF, but when you get over hear in Alabama you better be able to say PIG SOUIEEEEEEEEEEEEE! The debate can begin with is it Bar-B-Q, Barbeque, Bar-B-Que or just simply BBQ?

BBQ Historians, (and they do exist) will tell you that there are 4-Kinds of BBQ Vinegar & Pepper, Mustard, Light Tomato, and Heavy Tomato. And then of course there's Dry and Wet, (I prefer Dry), light smoke and heavy smoke and all types of woods with which to smoke. As you travel around the country one begins to be introduced to the various combinations being mixed and matched to create: Texas BBQ, Memphis Style, St. Louis Style, Kansas Style, Georgia Style, Carolina Style, and the list goes own. And then there's always our friends up North who simply believe Barbeque is to cook in the Backyard.

No matter how you cut it, chop it, or pull it, it's hard to beat the whole pig slow cooked in the ground. I believe Richard is correct, and if you are considering a BBQ Restaurant, or any other franchise concept, you've gotta ask not just does it work, but will it work HERE!

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

BBQ Franchising

I think that the only money to be made as a distributor in the BBQ world is selling the hardware.

I agree with Richard and the other posters that BBQ is unique, regional and completely unsuitable to being QSR franchise.

Even the method of grilling, smoking, or slow roasting is unique to regions. In Toronto, most BBQ is actually grill -something many American would find repellant.

Personally, I am not too fond of the Memphis type BBQ. But, if I were running a BBQ shop, I would stock all the necessary ingredients.

Hardware, spices, and other expensive add-ons might mike a nice distributorship.

Michael Webster PhD LLB

Misleading Advertising Law

The magic words of Richard Solomon

I just love reading Richard Solomon whose truth sounds truer, and who demonstrates such great respect for the truth in his writings. He really cuts through the bull shit and never worries about being "politically correct"!
I really wish we had found Richard Solomon, or Paul Steinberg, or Michael Webster, or Les Stewart before we bought our pig in the poke and donated our hard earned savings to The UPS Store Network.
Too late! Our fate! Too bad! So sad!

BBQ: The real Finger Lickin Food!

Being a fellow Texan, although displaced in Alabama, I agree with Richard regarding Bar-B-Que.
In Texas BBQ is all about THE BEEF, but when you get over hear in Alabama you better be able to say PIG SOUIEEEEEEEEEEEEE! The debate can begin with is it Bar-B-Q, Barbeque, Bar-B-Que or just simply BBQ?

BBQ Historians, (and they do exist) will tell you that there are 4-Kinds of BBQ Vinegar & Pepper, Mustard, Light Tomato, and Heavy Tomato. And then of course there's Dry and Wet, (I prefer Dry), light smoke and heavy smoke and all types of woods with which to smoke. As you travel around the country one begins to be introduced to the various combinations being mixed and matched to create: Texas BBQ, Memphis Style, St. Louis Style, Kansas Style, Georgia Style, Carolina Style, and the list goes own. And then there's always our friends up North who simply believe Barbeque is to cook in the Backyard.

No matter how you cut it, chop it, or pull it, it's hard to beat the whole pig slow cooked in the ground. I believe Richard is correct, and if you are considering a BBQ Restaurant, or any other franchise concept, you've gotta ask not just does it work, but will it work HERE!

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Hawaiian BBQ

"it's hard to beat the whole pig slow cooked in the ground" - FranSynergy

So true. And in Hawaii how do you say barbeque? Say luau. The best barbeque dish is kalua pig, a Hawaiian dish that is cooked in an underground imu for hours upon hours and served at luaus. The smoked pork is so tender and moist, it easily shreds away. Dip it in poi, with lomi salmon.

Mmmm...mm. Any Hawaiians out there agree?

-don-

Your fault, too for not doing pre-purchase due diligence...

By the way what if you were one one of the successful UPS Stores?