2 QSR execs discuss new design formats

Sept. 30, 2015 | by Travis Wagoner
2 QSR execs discuss new design formats

Times and tastes change. That’s true in fashion, music and the restaurant industry.

QSRWeb.com interviewed two executives to learn what they did to rebrand their chains and remodel their stores. We talked with Bruster’s Real Ice Cream CEO Jim Sahene and Captain D’s Chief Development Officer Michael Arrowsmith.

QSR: What prompted Bruster’s to undergo this effort at rebranding/remodeling?

Sahene: The remodeling initiative was born out of consumer research that was conducted about three years ago. Guests felt that we could make our free-standing building lots more inviting. We needed to update the look of the shops to make them fresher and more appealing to guests. We also needed to provide current and prospective franchisees more options for new shops.

QSR: What kinds of things did Bruster’s do?

Sahene:The remodel included new paint colors, attractive landscaping and more outdoor seating with shade to better support Bruster’s premium brand positioning. In total, the exterior look and feel of our stores has been greatly enhanced. At the same time, Bruster’s, which typically built free-standing shops, was revamping its business model and developing a new in-line unit that would be faster and less expensive for franchisees to build. It features a high-energy, colorful environment with indoor seating. Today, Bruster’s offers franchisees three prototype options: freestanding, in-line and end-cap, which can include a drive-thru.

QSR: What worked well?

Sahene:Bruster's has set several sales records over the last 11 quarters. We are just now completing our 11th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth, and we absolutely feel the remodeling effort played a part in this increase. Bruster’s has 180 locations; approximately 50 percent have been remodeled. New units are being built with the updated interior and exterior design styles.

A Bruster's location prior to being remodeled.


The finished product.


Here’s what Arrowsmith had to say about Captain D’s efforts:

QSR: What prompted Captain D’s to undergo this effort at rebranding/remodeling?

Arrowsmith: Our success is driven by listening to our customers. Our new, high quality and healthier grilled menu items are an example of listening to our customers and staying relevant to a changing marketplace. We were seeking an overall look and atmosphere that was reflective of the Captain D’s of today.

QSR: What kinds of things did Captain D’s do?

Arrowsmith:A full interior and exterior redesign that features a vibrant coastal atmosphere and upgraded dining experience complete with real plate ware and silverware. Today’s fast casual customers, regardless of income level, want a better experience than the fast food customer of yesteryear.

QSR:  What worked well?

Arrowsmith:We have received very positive feedback from our customers and this is one of the reasons for our consecutive record-breaking sales over the past four years. It’s also the centerpiece behind our new unit growth. Our new unit growth is driven primarily by great economic returns, but the driver behind the returns are the higher average unit volume our new stores are delivering to our franchisees, and the new look is a big contributor to those higher AUVs.

Exterior of a newly remodeled Captain D's.


The interior of a remodeled Captain D's restaurant.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Financing and capital improvements, Furniture and Fixtures, Operations Management, Restaurant Design / Layout

Travis Wagoner

Travis Wagoner spent nearly 18 years in education as an alumni relations and communications director, coordinating numerous annual events and writing, editing and producing a quarterly, 72-plus-page magazine. Travis also was a ghostwriter for an insurance firm, writing about the Affordable Care Act. He holds a BA degree in communications/public relations from Xavier University.

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