For 50 years, the dough has always been the foundation at Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar. Care was taken to see it was proofed and kneaded by hand to develop the brand’s signature flavor. Management has been applying those same principles and attention to detail in an effort to rework the Dallas-based company and set it for franchise expansion.
“We are perfectly positioned to support our restaurant chain’s growth,” Tim Matousek, Vice President of Operations for Boston’s, told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “We’ve been through a nearly 100 percent turnaround over a two-year period at the corporate level and have stacked our team with passionate, experienced individuals to make the greatest comeback in the history of casual dining. Our top priorities are heavily focused on building synergistic areas. We’re trying to grow to 100 restaurants in the U.S. and Mexico to solidify our brand. We support existing franchise partners through their growth and seek multi-unit franchisees in an effort to grow the brand.”
The family-friendly casual dining and sports bar under one roof traces its roots to sister company, Boston Pizza in Canada and currently has approximately 400 restaurants in Canada, the U.S., and in Mexico. After conducting an extensive reevaluation, executives instituted system-wide internal changes designed to lay the groundwork for repositioning and new growth. The company, which has a newly designed prototype including sleek yet comfortable finishes, an enlarged sports bar, and a premium TV package, recently opened in Ashburn, VA, Abingdon, MD, Tuxtla, Mexico, Patio Santa Fe, Mexico, Casa Grande, AZ, and Monterrey, Mexico and is on the road to hitting the three-year growth goal with signed deals and existing agreement renewals in the pipeline.
“It took a lot to admit that there were problems within our system that were inhibiting growth, but we knew the first step to improving the company was not denying our issues and instead bringing them to light so that we could all work to resolve them,” said Troy Cooper, Chief Operating Officer. “After taking a close look at every aspect of our business, from cash flow to operations and marketing, we feel we are now in a much better position overall and primed and ready for growth.”
The changes included closing restaurants that were underperforming and/or didn’t meet Boston’s new real estate, target demographic, or franchisee criteria, recruiting new executive team members, improving overall operation efficiencies, IT and purchasing revamping, and recreating a franchise support system. The new system is designed to provide franchisees the opportunity to focus on running their businesses, rather than having a dual role of restaurant operator and marketing, advertising and public relations experts.
“We’ve built a strong support center in Dallas,” said Matousek. “We offer a first-in-class training program, operations field support, full marketing package, construction consultants, you name it! We’re small but mighty and have several talented support employees who are dedicated to growth and franchisee profitability. We’re in the business of selling franchises and we see our partners as our customers. We do everything we can to ensure their success and to create a system where that success can be replicated time and time again.”
Matousek said Boston’s stressed its commitment to franchisee profitability and was able to lower food cost by three to four percent in many markets from a national average of 28 percent down to 24 to 25 percent with some restaurants running as low as 23 percent.”
“We’ve lowered the capital investment cost and streamlined our vendor contracts to reduce our food costs while improving the value equation from investment to return,” he added. “So it’s a stress-free way to obtain franchise partner buy-in. At the end of the day, our product is superior and our partners believe in that so creating and replicating a sustainable system is doable. Additionally, we govern these standards through a role we created called Regional Business Managers who are operators constantly in the field focused on operations, training, and marketing support within the restaurants.”
Matousek noted Boston’s has a put detailed selection process of franchise partners in place.
“We’re looking for sophisticated operators who have a passion for the industry. Our vetting process allows us to not only create relationships with potential partners but also ensures that their commitment to running a restaurant is clear.”
Ultimately, the Boston’s story always comes back to that dough.
“Our commitment to our company’s history is important to us,” said Matousek. “For instance, we still use the same 40+ year-old sauce recipe. We bring in our flour from Saskatchewan, Canada, even though we could probably source elsewhere, which wouldn’t yield the same quality of dough that has made our gourmet pizzas popular for over half a century!”