Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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100 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 R E S T A U R A N T R E V I E W Katie Lee After record growth last year and the unveiling of a new cafe prototype, Corner Bakery Cafe plans to double its store count in the next three years. Corner Bakery Cafe Capitalizes On Growth A fter a record-breaking 2014 in which Dallas-based Corner Bak- ery Cafe doubled its number of new stores built in one year, the 23-year- old fast-casual chain looks to the future, capitalizing on the rise of the fast-casual segment nationwide, its own growth mo- mentum and an efficient new prototype. In 2014, Corner Bakery Cafe was a force to be reckoned with in the fast- casual segment, adding 27 new cafes and an additional nine franchise development agreements. Last year also saw the hiring of key executives Mike Nolan as chief development officer and Salil Bapat as chief financial officer, as well as technol- ogy upgrades and an increased focus on energy efficiency. In 2015, the company plans to open 33 new units, as well as con- tinue rolling out its new cafe prototype, a design set to improve overall efficiency and reduce costs. "2014 was a turning point for our brand. We experienced success in years past but never of this magnitude," says Gary Price, president of Corner Bakery Cafe. "We put in an all new IT infrastructure and upgraded our IT systems at the unit level and the corporate office. We set the stage for rapid growth to give us the data that we need to make good decisions." Corner Bakery originally launched in November 1991 as a production bakery for Maggiano's Little Italy. "Many of the ristorantes in Italy have their own produc- tion bakery," explains Price. "On the first day of operations, all we sold was bread and coffee. That was the entire menu." As people typically faced long waits for a table at Maggiano's next door, they would often drift over to Corner Bakery Cafe. Eventu- ally the menu expanded as customers be- gan asking about sandwiches, salads and more and "Cafe" was added to the name. In 1995, Brinker International purchased the chain and began developing it as a fast-casual concept, often co-locating the brand with Maggiano's. In 2006, Brinker sold the company (but still owns Mag- giano's), and Corner Bakery Cafe began franchising a year later. After a slowdown during the recession, the company was sold again — this time in 2011 to Atlanta- based Roark Capital, which owns it today. After Roark took over, Price was brought on as president, with the Number 1 goal being to double the 129-unit store count, primarily through franchising. Today the company has more than 185 units and 34 franchise partners — and seeks to sign up at least another 20. In 2013, Corner Bakery Cafe partnered with Profitality, a restaurant consulting company that specializes in efficiency. Price wanted Profitality to look at exist- ing buildings and find ways to simplify the model and build a more efficient prototype. "They have been instrumental in the development of the kitchen for the new prototype," Price says. "They did effi- ciency studies, time-in-motion and helped us build a new labor matrix. If a cook needed to make a Chicken Pomodori Panini, Profitality literally recorded every function needed to make that menu item and assigned a time to it. Every menu item has an exact labor time." Previously, Corner Bakery Cafe's more generic labor matrix was based on sales per hour, not activity-based time in mo- tion. The new labor matrix works hand in hand with Corner Bakery Cafe's new back-office food costing system called e- Restaurant through Altametrics, which partnered with Corner Bakery almost two years ago. One key finding from Profitality's study was that 80 percent of all parties entering Corner Bakery Cafe were parties of one or two people. The older building proto- Corner Baker added 27 units in 2014 and will add 33 new restaurants in 2015.

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