August 22, 2011 // Franchising.com // Culver City, CA – Based on consistent robust sales at its newly remodeled stores and heightened interest among franchisees to re-introduce the brand east of the Rocky Mountains, the restaurant industry may be witnessing the unique comeback of an American brand. At age 53, Sizzler, the iconic family-casual steakhouse franchise, is orchestrating the ultimate brand reincarnation.
Following three years of consecutive same-store sales increases, the 176-unit chain received another boost earlier this summer when Sizzler USA, a U.S.-based management group led by CEO Kerry Kramp, acquired the company from Australia's Pacific Equity Partners, injecting new energy with a 100 percent focus on domestic performance.
Since Kramp joined Sizzler in 2008, the company has completely eliminated debt, revamped its menu in favor of made from scratch real kitchen-prepared food, and in conjunction with its franchisees, introduced a new prototype with updated décor. Sizzler also began testing such innovative food venues as food trucks (taking Sizzler food to the Streets) and "Weigh to Go" kiosks in its restaurants where customers can purchase select menu items and pay for them by weight.
The overall mission: to encourage previous guests who adored the brand in the 1960s-70s with their families to give the "new Sizzler" a try, while also attracting a whole new set of young business professionals during lunch and dinner. A growth effort also got underway, with three franchised locations and two corporate units scheduled to open before the end of 2012. Plans are to add 40 new restaurants in the next five years through multi-unit franchising in such markets as Chicago, Denver and St. Louis, MO.
The refreshed Sizzler prototype features vibrant lighting, brighter colors, contemporary furniture, interactive ordering kiosks and guest-directed dining. The menu, which has a renowned emphasis on variety, fresh healthful menu offerings and the launch of in house fresh hand-cut steak and fresh fish, is motivating customers to visit Sizzler restaurants more often. In addition to families, the business crowd is taking a quick liking to the new Sizzler prototype, as lunchtime traffic continues to increase.
"While Sizzler has withstood the test of time for more than a half century, we've re-energized the brand to remain that iconic staple in the industry for the next 50 years," Kramp said, noting that since 2008 alone, system wide sales have surged, and Sizzler restaurants that feature the new prototype design are experiencing sales increases.
With many buildings left vacant by sit-down restaurants that closed during the heat of the recession, Sizzler is "conversion friendly," with plans to move into these vacated restaurant spaces and easily adapt the space to the Sizzler brand and model. This will allow prospects to keep costs down, in many cases turning what used to be the previous tenant's cocktail bar into Sizzler's fresh salad, appetizer and dessert bars. This has enticed many multi-unit, multi-concept operators to consider taking advantage of the real-estate market and take even more interest in investing in the revitalized brand.
"While we're poised for major growth, we're focused on expanding the right way," Kramp said. "We want franchisees who share an enthusiasm for the industry and a passion for their community. We are looking for franchise candidates that we believe will make a great contribution to the Sizzler system and help us take Sizzler into its next 50 years of prosperity. It's not about growing fast, it's about growing smart."
Today, Sizzler's menu features made-from-scratch soup, a salad bar with more than 50 offerings, choice aged steaks, fresh shrimp and salmon, countless sandwiches and burgers and a hot dessert bar.
Sizzler®, Where America Comes to Eat®, is a family casual dining restaurant emphasizing value, high quality food and hospitality. Sizzler introduced the "fast casual" service style more than 50 years ago. Today, guests order and pay upon arriving, enjoying Sizzler's signature Endless Salad Bar and fresh-baked breads until their meals are delivered by friendly servers who refill beverages, clear tableware and tend to other needs. Sizzler® serves lunch and dinner; some locations feature Sunday brunch. Sizzler USA currently operates 176 restaurants in the United States and Puerto Rico, of which 146 are franchised and 30 are company owned. For more information visit www.sizzler.com