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Beef's New Cuts

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  • | 10:37 a.m. December 10, 2010
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Beef 'O' Brady's, a sports pub staple in the Tampa Bay market for the last 25 years, is introducing a new restaurant prototype that is expected to appeal to a wider array of casual diners.

But longtime fans need not fret — the spicy chicken wings and abundant television screens aren't going away.

Dubbed “Beef's 2.0” by the chain's new ownership, the new restaurant style adds colors and elements while maintaining the classic brand that helped the Tampa-based company expand to 240 locations in 23 states as far west as Colorado.

“We're a family sports pub. That's what we've been, that's what we will continue to be,” says James Walker, Beef's chief development officer for the last six months.

A veteran of popular dining concepts such as Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and Pizzeria Uno, Walker joined Beef's last spring when past colleague Chris Elliott became CEO following the sale of the chain to Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The purpose of the new prototype, Walker explains, is to better demonstrate the chain's core strengths to a broader consumer base. Families frequent current Beef's locations as much as die-hard sports fans, he says, and even though alcohol is served there is an unwritten understanding that boorish behavior won't be tolerated.

“We're in a unique position that we would certainly like to continue to own,” he says. “We attract a wide swath of casual customers.”

Beef's is currently working with two strategic partners, New York-based Site Analytics Co. and Thomas International Ltd., a British firm with offices in South Florida, to find the best sites for future locations and the right type of franchisees.

Adam Epstein, president of Site Analytics, expects its relationship with Beef's to be a long and beneficial one.

“Having helped develop the procedures and guidelines at dozens of restaurants and retail clients over the years, we are confident that Beef's can benefit from some of the same sophisticated processes to help them achieve their expansion targets,” he stated in a release.

Walker stipulates that even though Beef's is now a widely recognized national brand, its drive is not to grow by huge leaps and bounds. The chain will soon become a coast-to-coast enterprise with an opening in Southern California anticipated by the end of this year, he says.

“Beef's makes sense in most major markets, so we're looking at opportunities in those areas that make sense to us and to franchisees,” Walker says. “We're really more focused on growing safely.”

In addition to the new restaurant prototype, Beef's plans to introduce a newer menu in mid-January that will feature improved versions of its current wings, sandwiches and salads. New higher-quality items will include hand-breaded chicken tenders, St. Louis ribs and fried shrimp.

Along with menu improvements, the chain is also focusing lately on adding more systems and operational efficiencies, says Walker, an MBA graduate of Duke University whose culinary experience dates back to 1984.

“We believe Beef's is a healthy, strong brand,” he says. “Our intention is to exemplify what is already fantastic about the brand. It's more of an evolution than a revolution.”


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