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The 5,200-square-foot restaurant has about 180 seats, including the bar, and another 30 seats on the patio, he said. Bennigan’s is targeting 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot units.

“The bar is now on the same level, not raised, and it’s a shotgun, one-sided bar,” Mangiamele said.

Partitions separate the bar from the dining room, and stained glass was incorporated back into the bar “so we still have touchstones to the look and feel” of the original Bennigan’s. The concept was founded in 1976.

As well as working on menu enhancements, Mangiamele said Bennigan’s is looking to capitalize on the bar and employ innovation in the beverage program.

Traditional cocktails are popular, Mangiamele said, “but you have to do it with a twist, whether it’s the garnish or the glassware.”

Bennigan’s, for example, has introduced a new signature Irish Coffee, which fits its Irish theme.

“It’s all done tableside to give people the theater, the fun and energy,” Mangiamele said. “That’s a level of service at a price point that gives the connotation of value. That’s the missing ingredient in casual dining today. People don’t mind paying for good service. They don’t mind paying for good food. But it’s incumbent on the operations to deliver that.”

Mangiamele said the company also plans to expand its three, smaller “Bennigan’s on the Fly” versions, one of which is in South Korea and another at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The third Bennigan's on the Fly is a food truck opened by David Hollinger, a franchise owner in Panama City, Fla., that serves a nearby Army base.

Hollinger also has negotiated an agreement to bring back Steak & Ale, for which Bennigan’s owns the franchising rights. All Steak & Ale units were closed in the bankruptcy.

Mangiamele said he sees options for Bennigan’s on the Fly at universities, airport terminals, hospitals and other non-traditional locations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless