As the newly minted chief executive of Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Brad Blum addressed employees to share his vision of taking the quality of the casual-dining chain up and the cost down—and doing both at the same time.“There was some nervousness in the room,” he recalled, “with people looking down and some funny laughter, ‘Are you sure you got that right?’”But that is what he has been able to accomplish in little more than a year at 226-unit Romano’s Macaroni Grill. The menu features 54 ...

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