Eight years in, with 10 locations open and six more in development, Cheeseburger Bobby’s President Bob Stoll felt something more was needed.
“We want to be different in the [burger] space,” he says. “We want to make sure when you enter Cheeseburger Bobby’s it’s something you haven’t seen before. We’re not unique enough [now] to separate ourselves from the crowd.”
As a result, the chain commissioned a larger, sleeker design for future stores, the first of which opens in the 4th quarter in Augusta, Ga. “We were trying to come up with a timeless décor that will make us stand out. It has a loft-industrial feel with earth tones, rustic ceiling beams, concrete floors and a stainless-steel counter. We think it’s something the millennials will gravitate to.”
Brown leather booths are flanked by trapezoid community tables with tall black chairs. The new design (from Restaurants Consulting Group, Atlanta) will be about 2,600 square feet, up from the current design’s 2,000. The extra space will allow the chain to extend its signature build-your-own fixings bar (including eight sauces and eight seasonings for fries). Hot topping options such as sauteed mushrooms and onions will be added.
Stoll says they wanted to eliminate marketing/merchandising clutter in the store, so eight wall screens will show burgers on the grill rather than promoting specials. POS out front will spotlight Cheeseburger Bobby’s frozen custard. “That’s about 4% of sales now. We’d like to get that up to 6% to 8%,” says Stoll.
He also would like the change burgers’ share of the menu, now 85%. “I’d like [the menu] to be a little more diverse,” he says, although burgers will remain the focus. A lighter-fare menu with more chicken is in the works. The just-the basics Bobby’s Classic Cheeseburger is the top seller. Four seasonal specials (currently a Sweet Vidalia Onion Burger on a Vidalia onion bun) make 10-week appearances, and Stoll says he isn’t interested in adding additional limited-time specials.
Three of the six stores in development are franchises and Stoll’s goal is 75 locations in five years. Current locations average about $1 million in annual sales. Growth will come in the Southeast where its restaurants are now (the chain is headquartered in Atlanta).