(Continued from page 1)

Does the new unit in Georgia have the new Beach Design?

Yes. Captain D’s has always had a more nautical theme, but the new design is more coastal seaside destination. It’s bright and airy. It’s refreshing, and it dovetails perfectly with our breadth of seafood offering. Most importantly, it has resonated very, very well with guests.

How are you applying the new look to remodels?

We carefully tested over a long period and we’ve found it works. We’re seeing anywhere from a 7-percent to a 9-percent sales lift — higher in certain areas — at remodeled units.

We picked an entire DMA, including Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery (Ala.), and we remodeled all company units. Now we are turning our attention in 2014 to the Atlanta DMA. We’re methodically planning the rollout throughout certain DMAs.

How are you working with franchisees on the remodel plan?

The franchises have accepted it as well. Upon renewal and transfer, they adopt the new design. The franchisees that have implemented it are also experiencing a healthy sales lift.

What percentage of the system has the new look now?

We’re in infancy stages. Probably about 9 percent of the system has the new look.

What’s new on the menu, and what’s to come?

We have an incredibly talented team on product innovation and culinary, quality assurance and marketing. They have collectively come together to revitalize all aspects of food quality, consistency and innovation.  We found the company LTOs did grow stale over the years, but our team has developed new products that have resonated with guests. Whether it be the lobster bites, or the new crab poppers, stuffed crab shells or Southern-style white fish, it’s all done incredibly well.

At same time, we’ve been rolling out to our entire system a new grill/broiler platform. Company units will complete the rollout by the end of this month. Franchise units will be done by the end of January. That arms us with a new platform where we can further innovate our offerings to guests.

Does the grilled platform offer opportunity to build check averages with more premium items on the menu?

The grilled items challenge guests to spend a bit more. I wouldn’t say it’s added to check growth, but the culinary team has been innovative with appetizers, drinks, desserts and other add-ons, as well as prices higher than the $4.99 meal deals that give guests an opportunity to spend more. Our checks and transactions have grown over the past couple years, which seems counterintuitive given what’s happened to the macroeconomic environment. But sales are being driven by check, not by price increases, as well as increased frequency with core guests and new trial. The 8.4-percent comp in 2012 mostly came from increased footsteps.

Can you give a hint about innovation to come?

We can’t give away all our secrets. There’s a lot of exciting innovation in the pipeline, and you’ll see that hitting our LTOs in 2014 and beyond. We’re just getting started. We’re in the infancy stage of transforming this business, and it’s going to be a lot of fun with our new equity sponsors.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout