BJ’s Restaurants Inc. has rolled out new slow-roasting ovens systemwide, following a test last year, CEO Gregory Trojan said in an earnings release Thursday.
“These new ovens allow us to slow-cook to perfection large-format proteins such as prime rib, turkey, pork shoulder and ribs,” Trojan said.
The oven installations coincide with the debut of a new Brewhouse Slow-Roasted menu, which features a prime rib selection, baby back pork ribs, a double bone-in pork chop and a line of three slow-roasted sandwiches.
But analyst firm Jefferies is unsure that the new ovens in BJ’s arsenal will generate the results the company anticipates.
“We continue to model flattish same-store sales for the year, as we believe BJ’s will need at least some modest improvement in the overall full-service operating environment to see same-store sales turn more meaningfully positive,” a report stated.
BJ’s same-store sales fell 1.3 percent in the first quarter ended April 4. Net income declined to $9.3 million, from $11.6 million the previous year. Revenue rose 5.9 percent, to $257.8 million.
Despite the same-store sales decline, the results still exceeded expectations. BJ’s credited improved weather in California, Easter and calendar shifts.
Jefferies summed up BJ’s first quarter as “too early to claim victory,” but noted that trends had begun to pick up despite a troubled start to the year.
Perhaps reinforcing that bleak forecast, the recent shortcomings of Applebee’s cannot be ignored.
In 2016, the casual-dining chain attempted a menu overhaul that brought wood-fired grills to restaurants and put hand-cut steaks on the menu. But the effort fell flat, resulting in the resignation of Julia Stewart, former CEO of Applebee’s parent company DineEquity Inc.
BJ’s Restaurants has 192 locations across 24 states. The company opened three new restaurants in the first quarter.
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