Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smokey Bones: Going Out of Business

According to a news release yesterday, Darden Restaurants is making plans to close 56 of their Smokey Bones bbq concept restaurants citing performance as a deciding factor. Darden is seeking a buyer for the remaining 73 bbq restaurants.

I used to live a couple miles from one of the first Smokey Bones ever opened in Casselberry, FL. The restaurant seemed to be busy most of the time, but the article explained that frequency of returning visits is lower than in its other restaurant concepts.

It kind of makes sense to me. Compared to their other successful concepts including Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Red Lobster, I understand that customers would be more likely to visit Olive Garden for lunch more than once per week and I guess I understand the Bahama Breeze popularity.

Although I'm a bbq nut, I have to admit that I don't eat bbq more than once per week. I'm probably not a "typical" Darden customer though. I make my own bbq and don't eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster more than about once per year. Olive Garden is popular for lunch with my co-workers, but I don't personally know anyone that actually eats at Red Lobster regularly.

Could it also be that the profit margins for bbq are less than the profit margins for for seafood and pasta dishes?


Chris said...

Like you have written about in previous entries, chain BBQ stores can't really "compete" against the true BBQ shacks that really smoke their food.

There was a guy a few years ago, I think his name was Dave Bugg, who posted about his efforts to start up a BBQ joint committed to making BBQ the way he had learned to do it as private smoker/bbq afficiado. It was interesting reading. One of the main issues he had researched going into it was how cost heavy making GOOD bbq is.

I'm like you, I don't know ANYONE that eats at Red Lobster regularly.

The BBQ Guy said...

We had visitors once that asked us to take them to a seafood restaurant, so we took them to a "real" seafood restaurant near our house.

We were in the waiting area when one of our guests approached me and explained that they didn't want to eat there because the menu didn't have any chicken dishes.

It was all I could do to remain calm. I finally asked, "Where would you like to eat, McDonalds?" (They had kids who were finicky eaters, so chicken tenders were a "must have".)

We ended up eating at Red Lobster and they loved it. It wasn't my idea of "real" seafood, but for some folks I guess it hits the spot.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Chris. BBQ rules and even a staple food being its cheap to make at home, and just good.

However, when you go out for BBQ, be it ribs, pulled pork, brisket, whatever, it doesn't even come close to taste, but the price is through the roof!

BBQ is just one of those food phenomenas where its awesome, loved by the majority, but just doesn't work out to long in the corporate mind set of franchises or on going restaurants in most cases, although there are a few that have been around for a long long time, BBQ shacks, but they are locally owned and I believe to be more of a local community social place to gather then anything.