Charley's Taps Franchisees for Next Big Menu Item

Fast-Casual Sandwich Franchisor Uses "GrillMaster" Contest to Find Unique Sandwich, Inspire Competition and Collaboration Nationwide

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 27, 2012 // GLOBE NEWSWIRE // - Charley's, known for its Charley's Grilled Subs(R) and Charley's Philly Steaks(R) concepts, has announced the winner of its inaugural GrillMaster Sandwich Competition. The contest, which was open to anyone working at one of Charley's nearly 500 locations worldwide, offered employees the chance to have their creation featured on the menu as a special limited-time offer.

The champion, Michael Woodburn of West Point, Utah, is the food court manager of the restaurant at Hill Air Force Base. The winning recipe was his delectable "Hot Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich," debuting on the Charleys' menu nationwide in 2013, featuring a pineapple habanero sauce described vividly as "sweet heat."

"This was an absolute dream come true," said Woodburn. "I got into foodservice 24 years ago because I love creating new flavors and dishes, and I love interacting with my customers. Charley's showed it is supportive of both through this awesome competition."

Woodburn came up with the recipe by experimenting with different sauce combinations while at home cooking for his family. The secret to the success of the "Hot Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich," is the sauce -- a bold and beautiful blend of sweet pineapple and hot habanero. His sandwich beat out hundreds of entries, including two other finalists in a live showdown at the Charley's headquarters. Alden Mosher of Englewood, Fla., took home second place with his "Bacon BBQ Smokehouse," while Jessica Henson, of Midwest City, Okla., took home third place with her "Spicy Bourbon Bacon BBQ Steak."

Lending some expertise to the final voting process, in addition to President & COO Bob Wright, were judges Andrew Eisner of Scripps Networks Interactive, based in Knoxville, Tenn., and Andrew Lim of NPD Group, based in New York. Scripps Networks Interactive is the parent company of the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and Travel Channel. The NPD Group is the leading global provider of consumer and retail market research solutions for a wide range of industries, offering consumer behavior and point-of-sale (POS) information and industry expertise.

Said Lim, "Chains need to innovate to bring customers through the door. I love the way Charley's has used its franchisees to do that." Furthermore, Eisner noted that, "On the Food Network and Cooking Channel, bold flavor and unique taste is the secret to success with our audience. The GrillMaster competition has unearthed some great sandwich concepts that hit on both. I'm looking forward to coming back again next year."

About Charley's

With more than 500 locations in 2012, Charley's is the world's largest Philly Steak Sandwich chain. It's famous for its hot cheesesteak sandwiches made-to-order with USDA choice steak, chicken and deli meats. The crowd pleasing menu also includes gourmet fries, lemonades and salads -- all prepared fresh by hand with top quality ingredients. Founded in 1986, the Columbus, Ohio headquartered company has locations in 43 states and 18 countries. Charley's is a privately- owned franchisor that is also proud to serve the U.S. with locations at military bases worldwide. For more information, go to

Media Contact:

John Everette
Fishman PR & Marketing


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