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Why this diner franchise isn’t giving up on the dine-in experience

The CEO of a growing California-based concept explains how it’s balancing off-premises innovations with the iconic dining rooms it’s known for.

 

America has become an off-premises nation. Powered by ordering apps and delivery services, everyone from QSRs to family-dining chains to James Beard award winners are finding ways to serve their food outside the four walls, while consumers are becoming more inclined to eat in their homes and summon food with the push of the smartphone button.

Still, something can be said for that smiling server, that cup of coffee that’s refreshed when low, that warm dining room that transports customers to another time and place. And that’s exactly what Black Bear Diner is banking on as it revs up franchise growth across the country: that its cabin-themed diners and friendly service will continue to attract customers both old and new.

“I’ve had folks say, ‘Do you think about your business differently? Are you guys going to operate differently when we come in?’” said Anita Adams, Black Bear Diner CEO. “And the answer largely is no, because the experience mattered pre-pandemic and I would argue it matters even more now.”

Of course, that’s not to say Black Bear resisted the off-premises revolution or the technology adaptations that became required in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It adjusted just like other full-service brands — and then some. In this interview from Take-Away with Sam Oches, Adams shares how the brand found a balance between that warm, friendly experience inside the four walls and the convenience of off-premises channels, and explains how that balance is changing Black Bear Diner’s footprint as quickly expands eastward.

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