Under new ownership for just two years, Lenny’s Subs is getting a facelift both in terms of appearance and menu.
In its home base of Memphis, Tennessee, one company-owned store has already been overhauled. The new color palette features cool grays, reds, and blues rather than muted beiges and taupe. Corrugated metal details, faux wood floors, and concrete tiles also invoke a more inviting atmosphere. President and chief operating officer Jason Vaughn says the changes make Lenny’s more than a quick lunch stop.
“Families coming in for dinner—we want then to have a great atmosphere to enjoy their dinner,” Vaughn says.
All 112 existing Lenny’s locations—including company and franchisee stores—will begin remodeling by the end of 2015 or early 2016. Later this fall, the first franchisee unit with the new design will open its doors in San Antonio, Texas.
The original prototype store in Memphis will continue its innovation ways in the form of a sort of R&D lab for new menu items (read QSR’s coverage of R&D labs at Wendy’s and Dairy Queen). Vaughn says the brand is testing out an extended menu of its iconic Philly cheesesteaks, while also looking to more nutritious offerings to appeal to Millennials and an increasingly health-conscious consumer base. He adds that by offering a variety of options, Lenny’s is less likely to incur a veto vote from customers because it will have something that appeals to everyone.
“I think it brings the brand forward. We know that on every level, [expectations have] increasingly gotten higher. Not only do they want a better quality food, they want fresh food,” Vaughn says.
Lenny’s Memphis store is testing a veggie Philly, a chicken Parmesan sandwich, a chicken teriyaki, and a steak sauce and Philly cheesesteak. Vaughn says that because the menu items have only been out for a few weeks, it is too soon to draw conclusions. Still he emphasizes that these foods were not selected haphazardly.
“What we’re not about … is trying a lot of different things and just seeing what sticks. We feel very confident in who we are,” he says. “What we want to do is do what we do and do it really well.”
By Nicole Duncan