Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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cheese. The other three store bulk hot offerings. These include house-made mashed potatoes and hot dips, such as queso, white queso with spinach and buffalo chicken dip. In addition to the production line, Big Whiskey's also has a dedicated prep area. Measuring about 250 square feet, this space includes worktables, a vegetable sink and tabletop equipment such as food processors and slicers. While many operations have a set few hours for prep each morning and afternoon, prep at Big Whiskey's starts at 9 a.m. with one employee and runs throughout the day. This approach gives the chain some staffing flexibility when neces- sary, while allowing staff to improve their pay, Sundy says. "If [the production kitchen staff] need help during the lunch rush, we have a prep person that can and will run the salad station or the expo station. That's a way we can increase the wages of our back-of-the-house staff. The more stations they know, the more money they can make." Deliberate Growth Back-of-the-house employee pay isn't the only area where Big Whiskey's forgoes the quick buck. After spending more than two years developing a fran- chise system, Big Whiskey's opened its first franchised loca- tions earlier this year. While the chain could try to open as many restaurants as possible as quickly as possible, it instead will limit its new stores for the next couple of years, with just 6 budgeted for 2018 and 10 for 2019. Only after it has the experience of launching 15-plus franchised stores will Big Whiskey's take its foot off the brakes, says Caetano. While corporate store expansion focuses on the Midwest, with Springfield at the center of its territory, says Sundy, there's no geographic target for franchised openings. The company has national distribution deals with its suppliers and is licensed to sell franchises in 38 states. That's not to say the chain will open anywhere. Though Big Whiskey's will look at a number of metrics when evaluat- ing a franchise location, all proposed restaurants will have to pass a simple test: Would the company open one of its own stores there? If so, the franchise will probably gain approval. All new stores and franchisees, though, must really buy into the Big Whiskey's brand and experience. In a competi- tive casual-dining environment, providing an open, welcom- ing experience with original drinks, jokes and toasts enables the chain to stand out, Sundy says. "We believe the days of putting a bunch of trinkets and trash on the wall and calling it a concept have gone by the wayside. People are looking for an original experience. That's why we created Big Whiskey's." FE&S

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