For many full-service restaurant companies, it took a global pandemic and world-wide quarantines to get them to buy into the promise of off-premises service.
But P.F. Chang’s didn’t need convincing. The company had developed an off-premises-heavy strategy in 2019. In fact, it was one of the reasons that Paulsen & Co. and TriArtisan Capital Advisors acquired the casual-dining chain in February 2019.
“Part of our strategy back then centered around off-premises,” said Damola Adamolekun, who was a partner with Paulsen & Co. before joining P.F. Chang’s as CEO in June 2020. “We saw a wonderful brand with the resonance with the consumer that had a lot to do with the dine-in piece, but really was lacking in the off-premises piece — no infrastructure, no app, no website to order from. A lot of, we thought, simple things that could drive off-premises business and drive utilization of our kitchens and our restaurants.”
So the new owners started investing in that infrastructure, which included a P.F. Chang’s To Go prototype that prioritized takeout, delivery and catering. The first location of that new prototype opened in February 2020.
“The timing was lucky in a lot of ways, but the idea that off-premises was going to have a profound impact on the industry and be a channel of growth for us was something we held coming into the acquisition in 2019,” Adamolekun said.
Adamolekun sat down with Sam Oches, editor-in-chief of Nation’s Restaurant News, at CREATE: The Future of Foodservice in Denver, where the CEO shared insights with an audience of restaurant professionals about why P.F. Chang’s is going all-in on an off-premises growth strategy. In this mini-episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches, the two talk about P.F. Chang’s fast-evolving off-premises strategy, the company’s “channel-agnostic” approach to service and the huge potential P.F. Chang’s has for international expansion.