Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Down home cooking looks up on the Gulf

  • By
  • | 1:25 p.m. June 14, 2011
  • News
  • Share

There must be something in the gravy.

How else to explain the dominance of Gulf Coast Bob Evans restaurants in comparison to others in the nationwide 566-store chain?

The latest news is the Columbus, Ohio-based corporate firm named three local Bob Evans locations Restaurant of the Year. Two of the locations, in east Manatee County and Sun City, won the award for the second straight year — unprecedented in the history of the company. The Cape Coral location won the award for the first time this year.

The chain awarded four restaurants in 2011 with the top prize. The competition was based on combination of profits, customer service surveys and employee ratings. Bob Evans is a diner-style restaurant chain known partially for its big portions and friendly service.

The 2011 awards follow a stellar 2010 for the Bob Evans contingent on the Gulf Coast, in which a south Fort Myers location joined Manatee County and Sun City at the top. The Bob Evans just off of Fruitville Road in Sarasota County won the award in 2009. (See Business Review, Aug. 6, 2010.)

Tim Brady, an assistant general manager at the Manatee County Bob Evans, says the awards stem from a deliberate decision to motivate employees to do more, from how fast they greet customers to how enthusiastically they fix mistakes. “It's a matter of pushing the standards a little bit higher,” Brady tells Coffee Talk.

Ditto for sales and profitability. For example, Brady says when the corporate office came out with a call to improve sales per store by 1%, some managers on the Gulf Coast pushed employees to hit 3%. While the company doesn't break out individual store sales, Securities and Exchange Commission filings peg average annual sales per restaurant at about $1.8 million.

Success has it perks, too. A few managers involved with last year's awards have since been promoted. Brady, meanwhile, is focused on 2012. “We want to go for the three-peat,” says Brady. “We want to keep the momentum going.”



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.