In 1974, George “Jig” Warren III and Gary “Moe” Meszaros partnered to open a restaurant with signature food and service that would bring families and friends together to celebrate the best of America’s car-making history. Quaker Steak & Lube was born in an abandoned gas station in Sharon, Pennsylvania.
From that restaurant, Quaker Steak & Lube grew into an award-winning, casual-dining franchise known for its Best Wings USA and more than 20 sauce varieties, with nearly 60 locations across the United States and Canada. The company serves more than 80 million wings annually along with burgers, ribs, salads, sandwiches, kids’ meals and more. Additional Lube awards include MenuMasters, the 2012 Cheers Beverage Award and the 2012 Festival Favorite at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York.
The DNA of the brand is unique. “Our goal is to give guests a great dining experience on every visit. We are not stamped out from one mold. The decor is made from true motor sport artifacts collected and installed for us by an exclusive contractor, who hangs cars, motorcycles and more in each of our restaurants. It is unique and authentic,” says CEO John Longstreet.
“It's the combination of service, atmosphere, food and fun that translates into industry-high AUVs across the system.”
The Lube’s fun culture, compelling décor and menu attract a wide demographic. “We like to say our guests range from two to eighty two, and our research indicates that our guests are almost evenly split between female and male,” says Longstreet. “We host SuperCharged events such as ‘There’s Always Something Happening at The Lube’ nights, and fun promotions, including ‘Cruise-in to All You Can Eat Wing Night,’ which bring people in and keep them coming back.”
The company had its biggest year in 2012 with the opening of 11 new restaurants and has plans to open 14 more in 2013. “We expect at least that pace for the next few years,” adds Longstreet. “It’s the unwavering support of our loyal Lubies, dedicated franchisees and Team Members that helped propel us to the head of the casual dining segment this past year and will continue to aid in the success of Quaker Steak & Lube for years to come.”
Growth will be with company restaurants in “heritage” markets (Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania), but Quaker Steak & Lube is open to developing wherever the franchisees are. “We are willing to work with the right people in markets they know and want to develop. We will tailor our plan to scale, matching their needs with our needs,” says Longstreet. “That individual approach is something our franchise partners really value.”
The company operates corporate restaurants for good reason. “Maintaining company restaurants allows us to show, rather than tell, our franchise partners how something works. Recently, we tested a field marketing program, giving each restaurant a marketing manager who reported back at corporate level. That program expanded same-store sales in company restaurants to double digits ahead of franchise restaurants. We showed franchisees how they would get the same lift from the program, and participation was 100 percent. Franchisees embraced the program, and we had the best year in the history of the company,” says Longstreet. This approach applies to everything from new menu items to floor plans. “It’s all about sharpening margins for franchisees while maintaining guest satisfaction,” he says.
The Lube encourages input from franchisees. “Three times a year, we host the franchise owners at a roundtable discussion,” continues Longstreet. “It’s an opportunity for them to talk about concerns, the ways they are doing business, and how can we improve. We get a remarkable turnout because it gives them a voice. I hear them direct and unfiltered.”
For interested investors asking what gives Quaker Steak & Lube the edge over the competition, Longstreet says, “It’s the combination of service, atmosphere, food and fun that translates into industry-high AUVs across the system.”
For more information about franchising opportunities with Quaker Steak & Lube, visit www.quakersteakandlube.com