Texas Roadhouse outlines growth, pricing plan

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The brand has no tests of further price increases planned, Cooper said. He added that the company has about 90 percent of its beef costs for 2012 locked in.

“We’ve been very focused at executing our food and service at a very high level,” Colosi said. “We still scream a lot of value on our menu. That continues to bring in our guests as well. So we’re very well positioned right now, and we think it shows in our results. We continue to maintain a lot of value on our menu that I think is as competitive, if not more, than the majority of our competitors.”

Porterhouse addition bolsters high end

Taylor said the new 23-ounce porterhouse steak “provides additional variety for our guests willing to spend more money, just like the bone-in rib eye we added to the menu last year.”

The brand has yet to procure enough supply for the porterhouse to roll it out to the remaining two-thirds of its system, Taylor added.

Texas Roadhouse drove a 2.3-percent increase in its average check in the fourth quarter, contributing to a 5.7-percent increase in same-store sales. Colosi and Cooper added that the higher-price items, plus a price increase taken in the brand’s alcohol offerings, may drive a mix shift toward lower-margin dishes this year, but expected traffic gains between 1 percent and 2 percent should help drive overall sales.

“We’re optimistic that there are folks out there that have the demand for some of the higher-price stuff and that they’ll continue to buy it,” Colosi said.

The chain also would increase its capital expenditures slightly this year not only to build new restaurants, but also to increase efficiencies in existing locations, where speed of service and table turns remain crucial.

“Our operators continue to challenge themselves on the speed initiatives and how to increase the opportunity for more through-put in the restaurants,” Cooper said. “On top of that we continue adding seats in restaurants — we’re up to just shy of 70 restaurants where we’ve added seating.”

The chain has been testing a few different host systems that would allow for call-ahead seating, but it ended its test of tableside payment systems.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN