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Making it your way
by Sarah Cooper
Oct 08, 2009 | 1645 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ken Johnson hasn’t seen anything this big since the drive-through window.

The director operations for MRB Holdings Corp., owner of 15 area Burger King locations, has started down the path of a million-dollar-plus remodel of several area restaurants. He is hoping the upgraded curb appeal will translate into a boost in the bottom line.

The local redesign process started more than three years ago. Wednesday, Burger King Corp. announced a new direction for the design of its restaurants: contemporary sit down.

“I’d call it more contemporary, edgy, futuristic,” Burger King Chairman and CEO John Chidsey told the Associated Press of the new design standards. “It feels so much more like an upscale restaurant.”

The sleek interior will include rotating red flame chandeliers, brilliant TV-screen menus and industrial-inspired corrugated metal and brick walls.

Northern Nevada restaurants are pursuing their own kind of contemporary remodel.

“Gone is the fern-bar look of the 1980s,” he said. “The new look for us is a palate that is oil cherry accents, new tile on dining room floor, 18-by-18 square tile, which is a much more modern look, much brighter lighting inside the dining room. … etc.”

Over the past year and a half, the franchise owners have invested more than $1 million into upgrading the look of local Burger King dining rooms. Over the next three years, Johnson hopes all 15 area locations will get the same makeover.

So far, dressing up the dining digs has brought in healthy returns.

“The biggest percentage gain that we saw was 30 percent,” Johnson said of the financial boost after redesigning the restaurant at Clear Acre Lane and McCarran Boulevard.

That restaurant was the first to be redesigned. The owners have since remodeled the Patriot Boulevard and South Virginia locations, as well as the stores in Winnemucca and Fallon. The location on Mae Anne Avenue came next and the current construction job is going on at Keystone Avenue. According to Johnson, the Spanish Springs location on Pyramid Highway north of La Posada Drive is next.

Johnson said redesigning just makes good business sense.

“It is improving the curb appeal,” he said. “A business is really no different than a house that is for sale. You are pulling up and looking for something that is for sale … and you want it to look appealing.”

So far, the restaurants that have implemented the corporate changes have seen a boost in their sales, as well. According to Chidsey, remodeled restaurants have seen sales climb about 12 to 15 percent, while restaurants that are torn down and completely rebuilt at the same location have seen sales climb by as much as 30 percent.

However, this upscale feel also comes with an upscale price. According to Associated Press reports, the upgrades are expected to cost franchisees anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000 per restaurant to implement.

According to Burger King Corp. representative Katie Boylan, the redesign is not mandatory for all restaurants.

“But for those who pursue the redesign, it offers flexibility so restaurant owners and operators can choose a (corporate) plan based on their location constraints and level of investment,” she said.

MRB Holdings made its own plan, citing a need to slowly phase in the proposed drastic changes.

“We will integrate that (the corporate) into what we are already doing,” Johnson said. “Frankly, a 1970s-style building needs to be updated to a 2000 style. And then it can be upgraded to a 2009 building. It is something that needs to occur incrementally.”
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