Industry News | June 5, 2014 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Homestyle Dining Targets Millennials with Fast Casual

Bo's Steak & Grill
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It’s in with the new at Texas-based Homestyle Dining LLC, parent company of legacy brands Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse. Company executives unveiled their third restaurant concept in late May, a fast casual known as Bo’s Steak & Grill.

With one location in Lindale, Texas, the limited-service steakhouse is making a play for a new demographic of consumers that Homestyle Dining’s flagship concepts do not directly appeal to, says CEO Tom Sacco. While Ponderosa and Bonanza were inspired by the 1960s TV show “Bonanza,” connecting the brands with an older consumer base, Bo’s takes a fresh perspective on the typical steakhouse with an eclectic design meant to foster a communal sense of dining.

“It’s about the ability for people to engage with one another, and the restaurant looks like an older living room or backyard with all the eclectic décor,” Sacco says. “It lends itself easily to being able to pull tables together and dine as if you were throwing some steaks on the grill in the backyard.”

The modern-looking interior features a freestanding fireplace, mismatched sofa chairs and loveseats, and vintage lighting fixtures and accents. While Bonanza and Ponderosa offer buffet-style dining, Bo’s offers counter service and a salad bar, Sacco says. The core menu may revolve around steaks and salad, but menu items differ in presentation, he adds.

“Steak and salad is in the DNA of who we are, and Bo’s relates well that way because steak is the hero of the menu, and we’ve got a really nice salad bar … but on that salad bar, we’ve got ingredients that younger people would eat, but we don’t put them in our salad bar at Ponderosa,” Sacco says, citing quinoa as an example.

Since Bo’s Steak & Grill is a play at the Millennial demographic and the bourgeoning fast-casual segment, the concept isn’t considered a competitor to Bonanza or Ponderosa, Sacco says. “In fact, we’ve got a franchisee that wants to put the two right next to each other because he doesn’t see that one takes away traffic from the other.”

By Tamara Omazic