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Bob Evans to debut new prototype

COLUMBUS Ohio Bob Evans Farms plans to open a new prototype restaurant next week, featuring a communal table, flat screen televisions and curb-side carryout. The chain said the new restaurant is part of a plan to energize Bob Evans’ consumer perception, as well as the chain’s performance, which has been hit by sliding sales.


The new prototype is called the “Home of Homestyle” design and is set to open next week in the Dayton, Ohio suburb of Xenia, Ohio, where Bob Evans has had a food processing plant since 1953.




The new design draws inspiration from the Evans family farm in Rio Grande, Ohio, near the West Virginia border, where Bob Evans and his wife Jewell raised their family, but also includes such modern effects as flat screen televisions, free wi-fi and electrical outlets for guests’ computers. It will also provide curb-side carryout.




In a nod to another trend in restaurants, the new design also features a large, round communal table, called “Bob’s Table.”




Acompany spokeswoman said the prototype also was designed to make it easier to rearrange tables to suit different-sized parties.




Employees at the new restaurant would have “brighter, more contemporary” uniforms and a variety of different aprons to choose from, she added.




“The prototype location is an integral part of our chain-wide innovation plans to create a contemporary homestead,” Randy Hicks, Bob Evans’ president and chief concept officer, said in a statement. “We’re working to energize our people, enhance performance and present our brand in a new way.”




The spokeswoman said that the company did not have a timeline yet for rolling out the new design in existing restaurants.




The redesign is part of an effort for the 45-year-old, 570-unit chain to reconnect with its customers. In May Bob Evans debuted a menu of 30 “real meals” for $5.99 each as well as a selection of appetizers, starting at $3.99, that included apple pie fries, fried cheese bites, baked-potato bites and mini-sandwiches.




For its latest quarter ended July 24, restaurant sales at Bob Evans still remained negative. Quarterly same-store sales fell 3.0 percent, including monthly dips of 2.8 percent, 2.5 percent and 3.7 percent in May, June and July, respectively.




To help promote the new unit, on opening day, August 17, Bob Evans staff will hand out $12,000 worth of prizes and gift cards. The company also will donate 50 cents per guest on that day and the following day to The Cleft, a local youth-outreach group. Guests donating $5 or more to the organization also will receive a t-shirt.




Parent company Bob Evans Farms Inc., which also owns a food processing division and the Mimi’s Café casual-dining brand, reported this week that earnings rose 16.7 percent on lower cost of sales and controlled labor expenses.




For the company’s fiscal 2010 first quarter, it earned $16.1 million, or 52 cents per share, compared with earnings of $13.8 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Latest-quarter revenue fell 2.5 percent to $429.5 million. Same-store sales at Mimi’s Café fell 6.4 percent.




Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].



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