Industry News | October 14, 2010

Bruegger's Changes Not Ready for Primetime (Just Raleigh-Durham)

Bruegger’s announced the unveiling of a number of store changes that it eventually hopes to take brand-wide, but which are first being tested in one of the chain’s oldest markets: the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.

Lisa Doherty, field marketing manager for Bruegger’s, and Philip Smith, executive chef for Bruegger’s, were in Raleigh-Durham Wednesday to celebrate the unveiling of the changes, which accompanied Free Coffee Day in the area’s 20 Bruegger’s units.

“It’s one of the markets that’s been with us for 25 years,” Smith says. “It’s one of the original markets. We thought we would celebrate that milestone.”

That celebration included, along with triangle-shaped bagels to acknowledge the area’s Triangle nickname, renovations to each of the market’s stores.

Renovations include new décor and design features, like the “bagel wall” that shows the process of making bagels; a self-serve coffee station; a new ordering station with a wider offering of baked goods; and new dishware, among other things.

Doherty says the store renovations—which also added a limited number of more comfortable chairs—were an effort to enhance the bakery experience and provide a setting in which consumers could stay awhile.

“The remodel is really part of that experience, making the bakery more comfortable—you can have your lunch on a nice set of china and chill out and enjoy it,” she says. “The added bonus is seeing the reinvestment in the community and the brand flow through to our employees, and the pride that they have in what they’re doing.”

“And that really trickles down to the service that they give, as well,” Smith says. “You’re suddenly working in a spruced up bakery that offers a bigger menu and plated service. Who doesn’t like that?”

The expanded menu accompanying the store renovations, which is also only in the Raleigh-Durham market for now, is called the Perfect Pairs menu. It includes a three-tiered pricing structure for six full sandwiches that come with customer’s choice of soup or salad.

Perfect Pair sandwich options include a Turkey on a Bagel or BLT on a Bagel for $5.99; Four Cheese Panini or Tarragon Chicken Salad for $6.99; and Turkey Chipotle Club or Primo Pesto Chicken Panini for $7.99.

“We’re hoping to generate positive feedback from Philip Smith, left, and Lisa Doherty stand in front of the new bagel wall at Bruegger's.guests,” Doherty says. “One of those things is value perception with the Perfect Pairs menu, really looking at bringing guests value for lunch and dinner.”

Minneapolis is the next test market for the Bruegger’s changes, which altogether will be a $10 million investment brand-wide. The company hopes to complete the changes systemwide within two or three years.

Smith says the menu and store-design changes are not a matter of reinventing the Bruegger’s brand in the midst of a recession, but rather an opportunity to tell the brand story in another way.

“We didn’t have to hunker down quite as much as some of our peers, and we didn’t have to reinvent ourselves as a full-service concept,” he says. “We’ve always had great value [and] good, simple food—it’s always been that. So now we’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a tougher time. Here are some values we’ve got.’ And that’s what really the Perfect Pairs are all about.”

By Sam Oches

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