Welcome to First Bite, a Nation’s Restaurant News podcast, your daily source of news from NRN hosted by Holly Petre. Today, we’re talking about how BJ’s is working to improve its bottom line. Greg Levin was named CEO of BJ’s Restaurants in the summer of 2021 during perhaps the most disruptive time for the casual dining segment in its history.
Those uncertainties have only grown since, given inflationary and supply chain challenges, as well as a predicted recession on the horizon. Still, BJ’s system sales and comp sales exceeded pre-pandemic levels in Q3. Though margins remain pressured (BJ’s is not anomalous here), Levin and his team have put several initiatives into place to maintain the 214-unit chain’s momentum – uncertainties be damned.
Take, for instance, the company’s recently-created margin improvement team featuring representation across several functions to actively identify and implement cost savings opportunities, some of which are low-hanging fruit and others that have long-term implications.
The team focuses on four areas specifically – cost of sales, labor, operating occupancy and G&A. The ultimate goal is to bring margins back into the mid-to-upper teens, while maintaining quality and portion sizes.