In an effort to remain fresh in the quick-service industry, Checkers and Rally’s Restaurants are looking back on cuisine classics for inspiration for future menu items. The company discovered that customers, particularly younger generations, gravitate to inventive takes on childhood staples—like its twist on the iconic grilled cheese with new Grilled Cheese Strips.
At first glance, the new strips aren’t much more than an everyday grilled cheese sandwich. But it’s the subtle, creative improvements that make the menu offering such a hit. Checkers/Rally’s took the traditional grilled cheese, cut it into three strips, and added its popular seasoned fry coating on top.
“We talked to consumers and they said they loved grilled cheese sandwiches, but they didn’t want to spend more than 50 cents on them, or that they could make them at home, ”says Ryan Joy, senior director of research and development. “We really wanted to bring these sandwiches back in a new way.”
Checkers/Rally’s took a similar approach to its Monsterella Sticks. Instead of delivering customers traditional Mozzarella sticks that are found on any menu, the company added its seasoned fry batter on the sticks for an original taste.
The process of taking conventional menu offerings one step further resonates with younger customers. “Millennials trust us with taking that extra step and giving them that extra edge they can’t get anywhere else,” Joy says.
The rise of Millennial customers frequenting the brands can also be attributed to the menu items’ portability and on-the-go eating capabilities. Lauren Axe, director of brand marketing, says the Checkers/Rally’s menu is accommodating the fast-paced, active lifestyle of the younger generations.
Finally, Checkers/Rally’s has attracted more Millennials thanks in part to the brand’s aggressive approach in the late-night category. Over the past five years, Checkers/Rally’s has increased its focus on the daypart and tailored its menu to deliver food choices that fit into the niche. Offerings like the Grilled Cheese Strips and Monsterella Sticks, while still popular during daytime hours, are ideal late night snacks due to their small and portable size.
The innovative, Millennial-friendly menu additions have Checkers/Rally’s attracting a younger customer base and reaping the rewards: The company experienced three consecutive years of same-store sales growth, quarter over quarter. With an R&D department committed to staying on the forefront of what’s fresh and unique, Checkers/Rally’s doesn’t expect to stop growing anytime soon.
By James Stramm