Bruster's taps franchisees to come up with new restaurant designs

Bruster's Real Ice Cream has named two grand prize winners of its first restaurant "Extreme Makeover Contest." They include Hopewell, Pa., franchisees Mario and Brenda Leone and Tom Ely, and Bowling Green, Ky., franchisee Stuart Kirby. Each received a $5,000 check.

The contest is part of Bruster's revitalization plan, introduced in May at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The plan, developed to grow sales and attract new franchisees, includes a "four-seasons" approach driven by new products, a new building design, and the introduction of a "treat theater" exhibition-style service.

The contest served as an incentive for current operators to remodel their shops. The winners were chosen after making upgrades that included new landscaping, tables, benches, umbrellas, outdoor music, signage, paint and parking lot improvements. The franchisees also added customer activities such as bean toss, hula hooping, chalk drawing, horse shoe tosses and more.

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As part of the makeover, the Hopewell restaurant now includes a patio garden with a waterfall. The Bowling Green shop now includes a hotrod pickup truck with the Bruster's logo.

Rounding out the top five finalists are restaurants in Knoxville, Tenn., Greenville, S.C., and Middletown, Del.

Bruster's, which turns 25 next year, has revamped its business and franchise model. The new model includes frozen "pump style" yogurt and fresh smoothies. It also has developed a new prototype, which represents a "significant" savings from a free-standing model, the only option previously offered by the brand.

"Bruster's was one of the early premium treat players, and consumers continue to love our ice cream and other specialties," said CEO Jim Sahene. "The level of enthusiasm and excitement our franchisees showed in this contest demonstrates their commitment to reshaping Bruster's and preparing it for the next 25 years."

Bruster's, based in Pittsburgh, has 200 locations in 18 states and Guyana.

Check out before and after photos from the Extreme Makeover Contest grand prize winners.

Read more about rebranding efforts.

Photos provided by Frank Kendrala,

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Camille Russell
    We had a Bruster's here in Largo and we ate ice cream 5 out of 7 days from there--it was so-o-o good! Then Poof! One day they were closed up and moved God knows where---the closest one we found was in the Palm Coast area-several hours away. Who drove them off? Why don't we have one here in Largo, or even the trailer-trash heaven of Clearwater, or the "home of the drive-by shootings"-St. Petersburg? There is NO and I repeat NO good ice cream in our area. Please build us a decent place to get decent tasting ice cream!
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