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Have you had an influx of capital to spur growth this year?

Over the last couple of years we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that we were clear on what our strategy was. As the business has grown [in sales], it has given us the opportunity financially to look for future growth.

What are your target markets for expansion?

We’re going to stick with where we have infrastructure. Of course, we’re based in Florida, but we also have restaurants in the Atlanta area; Washington, D.C., and Virginia; the New York area; Boston area; Indiana and even parts of Illinois.

You have tried to expand Smokey Bones into other dayparts beyond dinner. How are those programs going?

We rolled out a new lunch menu back on March 18, driving items under $9.99. It has been incredibly well received, and we’ve continued to see lunch expand because of it.

What about late night?

It actually continues to be one of the fastest-growing parts of our business. We serve our full menu, with that quality of food, after 10 o’clock. That’s not something that everybody does. Our full beverage and food menu is available until 2 a.m.

Your menu offers a lot other than barbecue. How is it structured?

There are three major components of our menu. We’re the experts on smokehouse and barbecue — that’s really our roots. Also, we’re well known for our burger and our burger limited-time offers. We have three burgers on our current LTO. It drives one of the highest preferences in the menu, especially with our build-your-own burger. And then there’s the fire grill, which is our steaks and chops. Those three components really accentuate our barbecue roots, but also our credibility with having great food.

You recently hired a new culinary lead. How will Jason Gronlund change your culinary strategy?

The culinary strategy is really to be at the top of casual dining. Not a lot has changed, but I think we have evolved. It’s really working with our multi-pronged strategy for the Smokey Bones Bar & Grill. It’s about the food, pairing it with drinks and creating some differentiation to create a really great lineup with our distinct menu.

Jason has an exciting background. We’re looking to use creativity to continue to evolve our brand within those three core pieces of our menu.

Tell me a bit about the current Smokey Bones brand. What do you stand for?

We’re very proud of our barbecue roots. We’re a great smokehouse. There’s a smoker in every restaurant. With the burger piece, again, it’s about having fun. It’s about taking the all-American burger and giving it an edge. The fire grill is really about finding products that can continue to feature our quality items at a value price. The Smokey Bones concept is that we endeavor to be the best place for food, drink and fun.

Contact Erin Dostal at erin.dostal@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @ErinDostal