CULVER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- With a top-to-bottom overhaul well underway and a new leadership team in place, Sizzler, America's original family steak house, is again in the franchising business.
Chief Executive and President Kerry Kramp suspended franchise sales shortly after taking the job in 2008. "We really needed to stop and take a close look at every aspect of the business," Kramp said. "We spent the last 18 months listening to our franchisees, our staff and our guests with the goal of learning what makes people love Sizzler."
Veteran restaurant development executive Mark Lyso recently was hired to lead the new franchising effort. Lyso is credited with helping Famous Dave's grow from two to 175 restaurants. He led development of Sizzler's new interactive franchise sales Web site, which is accessed from the Sizzler.com home page. The site provides a detailed look at the brand and the opportunity it presents, as well as franchise requirements and operator support.
At a time when many casual dining restaurants are experiencing double-digit sales declines, Sizzler has experienced sales increases during 13 of its last 17 sales periods, even though most of its restaurants are in economically depressed California. "To produce these kinds of results during the worst recession since the Great Depression shows Sizzler is on the right track and is a very viable concept," Kramp said.
Kramp concluded Sizzler was no longer delivering the value that made it successful. "We had to figure out how to serve really good food at a price people could afford," he said. The number of menu items was reduced by 25 percent and virtually all remaining items were updated or improved. Sizzler started hand-cutting steaks and making more items from scratch, including soups, salad dressings, guacamole, tossed salads, breads and desserts. A variety of $9.99 entrees now include its signature Endless Salad Bar, which previously was a $3.99 add-on.
The chain also has an all new restaurant design, in use in two locations so far. A contemporary "Americana" look, it features a combination of light and dark woods, earth-tone carpeting and extensive use of stone to create a warm, comfortable, lodge-like dining environment. Photos reflect each community's diversity. A recently remodeled Los Angeles restaurant has posted monthly sales gains as high as 25 percent since being updated.
Sizzler is focusing its development efforts in the Western U.S. Kramp and Lyso have their eyes on markets where there are underperforming or closed casual restaurants well suited to conversion. "Coming out of the recession, there will continue to be a great opportunity to deliver really good food at a great value," Kramp said. "That's what made Sizzler a great brand, and that's what will enable us to succeed as we resume franchising."