There’s a new look at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. The Tampa, Fla.-based brand is remodeling both franchised and corporate locations and seeing a related sales increase.

The goal of the remodel was to refresh the 35-year-old brand, improve service and food quality. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has 150 units, 22 of which are corporately-owned.

CEO Chris Elliott talks to rd+d about the remodel.

What has changed due to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s remodels?

CE: In the front of the house we focused on upgrading the visual esthetic, customer comfort, branding and server efficiency. Generally there is a full makeover of the front of the house; new ceiling, floors, furniture, upgraded audio visual packages and a new POS system that allows servers to take orders at the table and cash out customers at the table. The color palette has been upgraded with lighter, fresher colors that lift the spirit. The branding is much more in-keeping with our community and sports positioning by calling out our tag line, “Where Game Time Meets Family Time.”

In the back of the house we’ve installed new kitchen display monitors to improve the efficiency of our kitchen staff, which has an impact on staff morale, as they see we are investing to make their job easier, and it helps us see how long things are taking to make. We have also added high-tech fryers to improve product quality and consistency. We’ve streamlined the server alley to improve order accuracy and get food out of the kitchen quicker. We moved some production into the server alley so staff can set up plates and do some things out there. Pre-prepped salads are now out there, too, in a cooler, so servers can just pull from it.

What was the goal of the remodel?

CE: The primary goal of the remodels is to reboot the brand and make Beef ‘O’ Brady’s more competitive in the casual dining segment. We also felt like a successful remodel program would motivate our franchise owners and our employees — and it has. The sales trend of an average 15% sales lift for franchised stores and 20% for corporate locations means the remodeled locations are significantly outperforming non-remodeled stores. The financial returns are there which entices more franchisees to participate.

What have been the biggest operational changes?

CE: The biggest operational changes have been order-taking and cash out at the table; faster bar service and broader offerings; higher quality food coming out of the kitchen faster. The sales lift is due to the synergistic effect of everything we’ve done. I think people like the refreshed look, but they like the faster service and the more consistent quality. It has a different feel and the whole experience has improved. Even if they already liked us, they like us better now.

What has stayed the same?

CE: The signage, uniforms and local artifacts and pictures pertinent to the local community. Beef’s has deep relationships with the communities in which we do business. It was important to make sure nothing in the remodel was disconnecting us from the community. Will all units be remodeled?

CE: The goal is for all locations to remodel. This will take several years as we are completing about 20 remodels a year. So far about 50 locations have either remodeled or are in the process of remodeling. The new units we’re opening and the remodels are both using the same design elements.

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Is there a difference in cost of this remodel compared to the previous design?

CE: Yes. The cost varies based on the size and condition of each location. On the whole, this is a more comprehensive remodel with more expensive elements mostly driven by AV and kitchen technology. A full remodel can run as much as $350,000 but significant improvements can be created with expenditures between $100,000 and $250,000. So far the sales lift has supported the entire range of investments and franchisees see the sales bump immediately. On average it takes about three and a half years to make back your investment. What has been the biggest challenge with the remodels?

CE: The biggest challenge is to plan and permit the remodel properly to ensure the job can be finished in five to seven days with no variation from budget. Then be prepared for the new increase in business once you re-open so we make sure we make a great first impression. What is most successful about it?

CE: On an individual store level the remodels are driving sales, profitability, as well as customer and employee satisfaction. On a brand level it’s driving sales growth and excitement about the future of a 35-year-old brand. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is on the rise again and the remodels are leading the way.