The week before Easter can be a two-step shuffle for HoneyBaked Ham: The café tables and chairs are temporarily removed to make room for the throngs of customers picking up orders of ham.
The same procedure is performed in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving and Christmas. While the switch-up is not without some confusion, the brand has long balanced its carryout, café, and catering branches.
“We’re first and foremost always going to be the retail premium meats store. It’s such a big percentage of our sales,” says Mark Demis, director of development and real estate at HoneyBaked Ham.
Originally founded in 1957, the Atlanta-based retailer began franchising in 1998, finding success in its deli-café combination, which allowed it to enter smaller markets. “We felt we were missing the boat a little bit with catering and café dine-in because our products are a natural transition to that type of offering,” Demis says.
Today HoneyBaked Ham boasts more than 400 locations—half franchisee, half corporate—and nearly all offering carryout, café, and catering. Such a diversified model is now coveted by grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other nontraditional businesses that seek to add a quick-service arm to their existing platform.
Even though HoneyBaked Ham solidified its reputation for carryout, café, and catering long ago, Demis says there are still some customers who are unaware of all its options.
“It’s a catch-22. Even though we lose [café sales], we have a huge audience where they can see that we offer those things.” Demis says. “We can hit them with bounce-back offerings and things like that, and they’ll come back.”
Beyond the Easter rush, HoneyBaked Ham has another exciting venture on tap: Throughout 2015 the brand will push an aggressive franchise expansion plan to develop 15 to 20 new stores.
Even though Demis says HoneyBaked Ham has more competition today than when it first entered the limited-service space, the brand has other attributes edging out the competition.
“Our distinction is there are very few players in the market that have the quality product we have to offer the customer,” Demis says. “We think it’s a good value.”
By Nicole Duncan