Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ruby Tuesday to roll 'best menu ever'

Ruby Tuesday is testing a new menu that “should lead to increased frequency,” marketing SVP Mark Young told investors Wednesday.

That, in turn, will help the chain attain its objective of raising guest tabs into the $12.50 to $14.50 range, from the current average of about $11.50, Young said during a conference call with financial analysts.

He did not disclose what selections will be featured on the new bill of far, but noted that they will include “several new items with bold flavors and more variety.” He also mentioned that the design spotlights an extended array of appetizers and “dinner-type items.”

The chain has been trying to boost sales in a two-pronged strategy of increasing guest counts, sometimes by offering deals, while also showcasing premium selections like a new lobster tail entree. Young said the concept will pare back its deal-making to facilitate a rise in the average check.

Beverage upgrades will also figure into that effort, he indicated.

Although Young said the new menu is still in a test phase, CEO Sandy Beall said the line-up is already set for a Nov. 3 rollout. He described it as “by far the best menu ever,” and said it was the result of “two or three years” of research and design.

Beall disclosed that the chain he founded 35-plus years ago now generates about 45% of sales with dinner-sized items, compared with a mix of 25% in past years. And that’s throughout the day—“we sell, gosh, probably 40% of all our dinners at lunchtime,” he said.

The chain’s objective, he added, is to raise that proportion to 65% of sales.

The new lobster entrée already accounts for 3% of sales, he commented. That compares with the 8% that comes from burgers, a signature of the chain, the executives indicated.

The chain’s officials noted that the recent rollout of Sunday brunch service to all but 100 stores has helped in drawing more visits from established customers.

No comments: