K.I.S.S.- Keep It Super Simple- Restaurant Start-Ups

On a recent trip to my local In And Out Burger location, my wife and I got into a discussion about the simplistic yet unique execution at a concept like the one where we were enjoying our sandwich. The subject was brought up while observing the line at In And Out never being empty of guests, despite the seemingly high check average (my wife and I had spent about $16.00 on two burgers; two skakes, and a fryes). Now that’s not too costly for dinner, yet it does seem a little pricey for just a burger with no statement of beef quality other than ‘never frozen’.

The secret we believe we discovered was to keep it super simple. If you are in the QSR industry, your concept is likely to be constantly rolling out value items during this quarter, and into 2010. Many of you have surely seen one of the popular sandwich brands rolling out $2.00 flatbread sandwiches, or $5.00 combos when paired with a drink. Those concepts need to keep up the traffic levels in the stores, and although they have been recently creative in marketing efforts, they are typically limited on the type of quality statements available as they can’t afford to use premium ingredients.

Concepts and new restaurant start ups competing for that magic $9-15 per person average at dinner have a larger field of competition these days, with many full service casual concepts offering $10 3-course meals during the same time of day. In this bracket of dining, sometimes keeping it super simple works better. Concepts like In and Out Burger and Five Guys never run LTO’s; have little to no variety in their offerings; yet make a simple item to the best of their ability.

The basic ingredients are of sustainable quality, and the recipes for production are simple to repeat with consistency. Just another decision to discuss for your current restaurant’s menu development, or especially if undergoing a restaurant start up project. I acknowledge that the burger concept was made more popular by pioneers like Ray Croc, but in today’s playing field, someone doing food ‘old school’ simple may have an edge up in that $9-15 bracket. Now, I am not arguing that there is no place for a value menu; I am simply saying that it may not be the only road to travel when it comes to repositioning your concept in this ever changing dining market.

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