SPB Hospitality, the parent company for Logan’s Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and other brands, is consolidating its corporate offices in Denver, Colo., and Nashville, Tenn., to Houston by mid-August, says CEO Jim Mazany.
Mazany, who was named CEO in September after Fortress Investment Group LLC bought the former Craftworks Holdings out of bankruptcy in June, said in an interview Monday that a vibrant Vaccine Era consumer and virtual brands are giving the new SPB Hospitality a boost in 2021.
With 145 Logan’s Roadhouse casual-dining units and about 90 Old Chicago Pizza & Taprooms, SPB (which stands for steak, pizza and beer) Hospitality has 250 units. It also owns the Rock Bottom Brewery, Gordon Biersch, ChopHouse & Brewery, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, AIA Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.
During the pandemic, SPB also launched three virtual brands — Ember Smoked BBQ, Roadies Sliders and Twisted Tenders — that it innovated at the corporate level and services out of its restaurant kitchens.
“Ember Smoked BBQ is probably our hottest by far sales performance in our virtual space,” Mazany said, “so we anticipate taking some of those virtual restaurants into brick and mortar in the near future.” He said those brick-and-mortar versions might appear within six months.
The headquarters consolidation in Houston will help SPB in expanding those brands.
“We actually are coming out of the pandemic in very strong shape,” Mazany said from the new offices in Houston. “The organization is primed to grow, and we wanted to centralize our support center in one area.”
Mazany, who lives in Houston, said 25 of SPB’s restaurants are in the Lone Star State, so locating headquarters there “was a natural fit.”
The company just reopened an Old Chicago restaurant in Waco, Texas, that had been closed during the pandemic and bankruptcy proceedings. It did more than $80,000 in sales the first week, he said, “so we're really excited with that.”
During the pandemic, the SPB brands repurposed some employees to a live call center, answering phones in person to take orders. “That’s part of hospitality,” Mazany said. The brands saw off-premises orders rise from 5% of sales to 20% to 25% currently. Mazany said he expected to retain and grow those off-premises channels.
The casual-dining sector is seeing good traffic in the Vaccine Era, he added, with the SPB brands seeing double-digit sales comparisons over 2019.
“We actually expect the growth to come a couple of different ways,” Mazany said. “We do expect new ground-up restaurants that we will build. We also will build within the specialty portfolio, which is our ChopHouse restaurant brand.” The virtual brands’ future is also in that mix, he said.
“We really have designed these restaurant brands to be very portable,” he said, “so that we could use them across the entire portfolio and any one of our 250 outlets.”
Mazany added that it was heartening to see restaurant brands growing again after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.
“It's good to see people coming back and getting out into dining rooms, visiting restaurants,” he said, calling it something of a restaurant renaissance.
“We have found that the consumers definitely had a pent-up demand,” Mazany said. “We found that the consumer misses their favorite restaurants, places where they've had great memories. We've been very, very fortunate to be rewarded with those experiences with those guests coming out.”
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