Ignite Restaurant Group narrowed its losses in the first quarter ended March 28, but same-store sales were negative at both of its casual-dining brands, the company said Wednesday.
The company this week debuted new menus at both its Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap concepts that executives said reduce menu items and should cut ticket times.
The Houston-based parent to the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap narrowed its first-quarter net loss to $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, from $22.2 million, or 87 cents a share, in the same period last year.
In March of last year, Ignite agreed to sell the Romano’s Macaroni Grill brand to Redrock Partners LLC in a $8 million deal. Excluding those discontinued operations, the loss in last year’s first quarter was $3.2 million, or 12 cents a share.
Revenue in this most recent first quarter fell 3.5 percent, to $117.9 million, compared to $122.2 million in the prior-year period.
Same-store sales decreased 1.8 percent company-wide, which included a 1.3 percent decline at Joe’s Crab Shack and a 4.5 percent drop off at Brick House, the company said.
“We are encouraged by the results that we continue to experience from our weekday value initiatives, including the ‘All You Can Eat’ crab offering on Wednesdays,” said Robert S. Merritt, Ignite’s CEO, in a statement.
“We generated positive comparable restaurant sales at Joe’s for most of the quarter but were negatively affected by the Easter holiday shift into March this year,” Merritt added.
“We rolled out a new menu this week at Joe’s and Brick House that we believe will positively impact sales and execution in both brands,” he said. “Both of the menus have a reduced number of items, which will provide an opportunity to reduce ticket times while also offering the items that are most popular with our guests.”
During the first quarter, Ignite opened three Brick House restaurants in Latham, N.Y., Sugarland, Texas, and Methuen, Mass. All three were conversions from Joe’s restaurants, the company said.
Ignite Restaurant Group owns and operates 156 casual-dining restaurant, including 130 Joe’s Crab Shack units and 26 Brick House Tavern + Taps.