March 08, 2011 // Franchising.com // Atlanta, GA – Moe's Southwest Grill, the fast-casual franchise known for fresh made-to-order burritos, quesadillas and more, has proof that when it comes to restaurant design and operations, small changes can make a huge difference – to the tune of sales increases of more than 20 percent at its original franchise location.
A new "refreshed" prototype, slowly being rolled out nation-wide, retains the original look and feel of Moe's, but presents a brighter, cleaner and more sustainable design with LED and CFL lights, colorful new furniture, low VOC emission paints and an updated salsa bar featuring five free flavorful Moe's salsas.
Moe's, which has grown to more than 420 locations in just 10 years, is known for its fun, energetic atmosphere and its fresh, made-to-order southwestern fare with more than 20 different ingredients and vast menu options for vegans and vegetarians. In designing the refreshed prototype, company executives say they kept the "don't fix what's not broken" theory in mind, given that Moe's was among the top three fastest-growing chains in the Mexican fast-casual restaurant segment, growing by nearly 16 percent in 2009.
"Our objective with the newer model was to increase efficiency, durability and satisfaction among employees and customers, without changing too much of what we know already works," says Paul Damico, President of Moe's Southwest Grill. "We thoroughly researched every aspect of the new model, from the paint on the walls to the light bulbs, even the size of the hole in the garbage can. We're already seeing the updated look attract new customers and raise our bottom line."
Mark Monroe, franchise owner of the first Moe's location on Peachtree Road in Atlanta, noted that however slight they may be, the updated elements have had a positive impact on his business – to the tune of a more than 20 percent sales increase. "The new equipment and furniture is easier to clean and maintain, and overall the updates have really energized my crew," Monroe said. "I can't tell you how many guests have taken notice. They will come in and say how amazing the place looks."
The new LED and CFL lights, combined with walls made from post-industrial recycled content, have helped reduce the restaurant's carbon footprint, as well as lowering maintenance and energy costs.
In late January, Moe's also announced a redesign of their menu board, which now highlights more than 20 fresh, free ingredients that can be used to customize each order, the free chips and salsa that are included with each meal, and the kids menu, which now has its own board at kids' eye level. Additionally, Moe's added a Food Mission wheel that lets guests know important information about the ingredients they enjoy such as Moe's serves only all natural chicken, grass-fed steak, grain-fed pork and organic tofu.
"The new menu boards help to simplify the ordering process, getting guests through the line faster and helping our franchisees' bottom line," said Damico. "The fact that we're listing all 20 fresh ingredients is not only beneficial for health reasons, but it's a huge value-add to our customers."
Moe's Southwest Grill plans to open 65 new restaurants throughout 2011, all of which will include elements of the new prototype. Moe's will also open its first of 40 locations in Istanbul, Turkey this spring.
Moe's Southwest Grill is a fast-casual concept featuring fresh southwest fare in a fun and engaging atmosphere with over 420 locations in 32 states and in Canada. At Moe's, each meal is prepared right before your eyes and is accompanied by free chips and salsa, including the Homewrecker burrito, the Billy Barou nachos, and the Close Talker salad. Founded in 2000, Atlanta-based Moe's Southwest Grill was ranked #1 in category in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 in 2010 and is a Gold Award winner of the 2008 Consumer's Choice in Chains Awards. For more information, visit www.moes.com.