For the first time since it was acquired by parent company TRUFOODS LLC in 2007, Pudgie’s Famous Chicken launched a new food product, the BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich LTO.
Gary Occhiogrosso, chief development officer for TRUFOODS, says there were more pressing needs for the company to address with Pudgie’s before introducing any new menu items.
“It’s everything from operating system to core package to business model, how we’re going to do marketing, distribution of product, who our ideal operators and franchisees are, what the ideal locations are, the ideal equipment—all of the stuff that isn’t as fun as creating a new product,” he says.
The BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich, Occhiogrosso says, is selling for $2.99 individually or $4.99 with a side and drink at most stores. He says the LTO fits a need for franchisees.
“What we hear from all of our franchisees is they want lower-cost food items that are not only lower cost to the franchisee in terms of the overall food cost, but lower cost to the consumer,” Occhiogrosso says.
Fred Kirvan, chief operating officer for TRUFOODS, says the new menu option also helps franchisees operationally because it doesn’t incorporate many new processes or ingredients.
“The barbecue chicken sandwich certainly complemented the current food offering, which is chicken,” Kirvan says. “We wanted to keep it simple because since I arrived on the scene, we’ve been focused on the brand and how we keep this thing simple and affordable to operate.”
Kirvan says one big driver in developing a sandwich option was to help the concept expand beyond its prime daypart: dinner.
“We wanted to open up the opportunity of the lunch daypart, so sandwiches, salads, and wraps were something we had on the radar screen,” he says. In line with that direction, Kirvan says he’s developing four new menu items for 2012, and is considering sandwich, wrap, and po’ boy options.
Still, Occhiogrosso says customers shouldn’t expect Pudgie’s—known for its buckets of skinless fried chicken—to be redeveloping its entire menu anytime soon.
“If you start putting too much stuff up on the menu, a couple of things happen,” he says. “No. 1, you don’t execute flawlessly anymore, so you have consistency and quality issues, and No. 2, you begin to confuse your guests on who and what you’re about.”
By Sam Oches