The Difficult Decisions of Brand Building — Darden's Abandons Smokey Bones | Bruce Turkel

VIA Bob Wright. If you or I owned a Smokey Bones Bar-B-Q Restaurant, we might be thrilled with the money it makes. But the concept does meet Darden’s internal hurdle rate for returns for a national chain.
Darden’s fought the limitation of their bar-b-q/sports bar focus since day one. Frequency of visit is the key for all Darden concepts (and most non-tourism driven or event restaurants for that matter) and even people who love bar-b-q have cut back on their visits. All Darden restaurants experience strong trial (honeymoon) due to name/brand, concept, location, consumer’s natural propensity to try a new restaurant and advertising. From there (generally about three to six months after the honeymoon ends) the location, concept, menu, experience, prices, etc., bring people back.

So Darden, the last remaining Fortune 500 company in Central Florida, continues to search for the third leg to the stool to go with Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

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