Bennigan's Franchising Company began a legendary comeback in 2011 by re-energizing the beloved brand with a commitment to bring memorable dining experiences to every guest, every day.
This remarkable resurgence began over the past year with a brand refresh at the company's two corporate locations and a plan to bring the same menu optimization and service enhancements to current and future franchise partners.
In 2011, the 78-unit company signed franchise agreements with 8 new franchisees to develop over 30 new restaurants, and has plans to open 12 new locations domestically and internationally in 2012.
Projected openings in 2012 include restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, Maryland, Washington DC, New Jersey, and Florida, as well as internationally in Cyprus, South Korea, Mexico, El Salvador, and Dubai. Bennigan's currently has 33 domestic locations and 45 international.
"At a time when many companies are cutting back, we are making investments into a strategic plan to rekindle the fire of a great brand," says Paul Mangiamele, Bennigan's President & CEO.
"There is a lot of nostalgia, goodwill and pent up demand for Bennigan's that we are bringing into the 21st century with new technology and a renewed customer focus on presenting hand-crafted, signature American fare with Irish hospitality."
During 2011, Bennigan's began a complete overhaul of the company, beginning with Mangiamele taking over as chief executive in May. Determined to see this iconic American brand returned to its former glory, he began overseeing strategic improvements at the two corporate-owned Bennigan's locations.
Menu optimization, increased operational standards, server training, and a local store marketing push at the flagship restaurant in Chicago brought with them double-digit sales increases, which Mangiamele is confident will translate to the chain's franchisee-owned units.
The company also launched a new prototype in Appleton, Wisconsin, debuting a smaller footprint and freshening the brand with updated menus and bar offerings, uniforms, logos, and signage.
These are not just surface improvements. Bennigan's has returned to its roots established 35 years ago, bleeding green with a determination to make "Every Day is St. Paddy's Day."
Servers at the corporate-owned locations were retrained to achieve flawless execution, providing a legendary experience to every customer. In the chef-driven kitchen, favorite classics like the Big Irish Burger sandwich were brought back to the menu along with innovative, new American fare.
"We have benefitted greatly from the collective wisdom of our franchisee partners," Mangiamele says.
"We have taken their feedback and a burning desire to restore an iconic brand to greatness, and we have put our key learnings to work increasing sales and unit-level profitability."
Bennigan's Franchising Company is growing, and the new prototype offers a low cost of entry and a flexible design to fit many types of sites.
Part of the company's renewed focus is looking towards expansion through non-traditional locations, such as the fast-casual model called Bennigan's on the Fly.
This new branding will be introduced in 2012 that will allow for development in airports, hotels, hospitals, cruise ships, universities, and other non-traditional locations. The new restaurants have a smaller format and are designed to be flexible and fit different site options from end-caps and in-line spaces to free-standing pad sites.