Back Yard Burgers, the Nashville-based, Black Angus burger concept founded in 1987, unveiled a new, contemporary redesign of its restaurants and expansion plans.
“Our focus throughout the redesign process has remained on the creation of a better atmosphere for both our customers and our dedicated employees,” says David McDougall, Back Yard Burgers chief executive officer. “In this very competitive environment you need to stand out from the crowd.”
Back Yard Burgers straddles the line between fast-casual and quick-service in what research firms dub as “QSR Plus.” Customers order their burgers at a front counter and then take a number to their table to wait for a staff member to deliver the food.
The new design features large windows letting in 50 percent more natural light and creating an airy feel in the dining area. Additional updates include a more streamlined drive-thru experience, an open kitchen, and a designated milkshake station near the front entrance. “We wanted to create better visibility into the kitchen and promote the quality and freshness of our food and more customization,” says McDougall.
The open-flame grill sits more in the center of the previously walled-off kitchen so customers can see staff cooking burgers to order from the dining room or even the drive-thru lanes. A new milkshake station sits on the front counter for more visibility as well.
In addition, the exterior of the building was redesigned, with new glass windows and different elevations on the roofline. Landscaping and walled structures hiding parts of the back of the building were also introduced to make the drive-thru experience more aesthetically pleasing. “A lot of our competitors are doing a good job trying to enhance the drive-thru so you don’t see dumpsters or grimy back doors,” McDougall says.
Technology also plays a prominent role in the new redesign and drive-thru enhancements, with the integration of digital display boards, an enhanced sound system and second lane ordering kiosks.
“We focused on Millennials in our focus groups and if there was one comment I didn’t forget, it was ‘when I think about Back Yard Burgers I think that’s my dad’s burger place,’ ” McDougall says. “We had to figure our how to address that without alienating our loyal group of consumers. The new design really represents the future of the brand.”
The new design coincides with the chain’s attempt to enhance customer service, efficiencies and the overall dining experience. Today, the 55-percent-franchised brand operates 60 locations in 13 states. The chain opened four locations in 2015 and plans to open five stores with the new design next year.