While fast casuals and "build-your-own" brands continue to change the landscape of foodservice, progress seems to be stagnating on the aesthetic front. Bob Stoll, president of the build-your-own burger concept Cheeseburger Bobby’s, wanted to break away from the now-standard micas and granites of fast casual décor and elevate the growing franchise along the way.
As the brand preps for expansion in its home state of Georgia, as well as neighboring Tennessee and North Carolina, Stoll says he wants to present Cheeseburger Bobby’s as a stand-out among the competition by cutting back on branded messaging and going for a more natural, “timeless” look that he says will better represent the quality of the brand’s Angus burgers and fresh toppings. While the average check at Cheeseburger Bobby’s runs around $9.00 to $10.50, the brand is aiming to create an atmosphere with a “$16 décor,” elevating the value perception of the food and experience without having to change any of the ingredients. “You have to have a décor that goes with the higher quality food,” he says.
For starters, this means no point-of-purchase advertising in the window, removing elements with an artificial feel, and utilizing materials that are more common in upscale restaurants and draw on inspiration from New York-style lofts—materials such as dark, rich wood for the ceiling beams; concrete for the countertops; and elements of aluminum and stainless steel throughout the restaurant. The new look is meant to channel attention toward the restaurant’s focal point: the build-you-own burger bar, which displays a bevy of topping options for each customer’s customized creation. The food will also be directly featured with brand-free, large-scale photography of flaming grills and crisp veggies.
Though the new, upscale design is meant to elevate the brand and give it a finer-dining feel, it also encourages the efficiency that is so characteristic of the limited-service category, with all-sides accessibility to the topping station and large, trapezoidal communal tables to accommodate single diners without tying up larger booths.
To further differentiate the brand from its quick service counterparts and better-burger competition, Stoll is adamant about eschewing the drive thru. “No good burger goes through a drive thru,” he says. “Everything we do is cooked to order, and we just wouldn’t be able to deliver that and the quality and experience that follows at a drive thru speed.” Apparently it takes time to create the aesthetic of timelessness.
The new design will be implemented by the end of the year in all of the brand’s locations and the five new stores currently in development—which Stoll says will do justice to the unique and growing Cheeseburger Bobby brand.
By Emily Byrd