Initially promoted as a limited-time offer, the St. Louis-style ribs now account for about 18 percent of transactions, and almost half of all orders are combination meals that include both ribs and the fast-casual chain’s signature chicken.
“We have really had phenomenal results since we started the promotion in April,” said George Michel, Boston Market Corp.’s chief executive. “It has been very well-received by our customers as an addition to the menu, and it fits well with our rotisserie chicken. Chicken and ribs go really well together.”
For April and May, Michel said customer transactions rose 8 percent over the same period last year, despite the fact that the ribs are a more premium product, priced between $10.99 and $12.99.
“In today’s industry and economic conditions, we feel very excited about those results,” said Michel.
The bone-in spare ribs are seasoned, smoked and brushed with a proprietary barbecue sauce. The eight-week promotion was supported by national television ads on cable and local broadcasts in key markets.
The ribs launch contributed significantly to the transaction growth, he said, but Boston Market has also benefited from momentum that started three years ago, when the chain rolled out a remodel effort called “America’s Kitchen Table,” with efforts that enhanced the guest experience.
Michel said Boston Market has seen 34 consecutive months of positive same-store sales. The company ended 2012 with a same-store sales increase of 6.5 percent after recording an 8.5-percent increase in 2011.
This year, the Golden, Colo.-based rotisserie chicken chain has restarted growth.
A new restaurant is under construction in Miami and scheduled to open in August. The chain is also looking at locations in New York’s outer boroughs, and Michel said a new licensing agreement for a nontraditional location is in the works.
Boston Market is also considering franchising, but Michel said that decision will likely come in 2014.
Still, the chain has shrunk considerably since Boston Market was acquired by Boca Raton, Fla.-based private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2007. At the time, it had 630 restaurants, but the company closed underperforming locations and those in poor trade areas.
The company ended 2012 with 469 locations, but five more closed this year due to leases not being renewed.
This story has been updated to reflect the following correction:
Correction June 24, 2013 An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated the time span of Boston Market's positive same-store sales.