Big Boy’s fast-casual concept, @burger, has closed its doors after barely a year in business, AnnArbor.com reports. Last year, Big Boy CEO Keith Sirois told BurgerBusiness.com that one reason to try the compact @burger concept was that “5,000- to 8,000-square-foot restaurants [like traditional Big Boys] just aren’t practical any more.” But it was the smaller, higher-priced concept that proved unfeasible.
Sirois and Big Boy didn’t seem to make any glaring mistakes in developing the @burger concept. Burgers were competitively priced for the category, starting at $6.79 for the standard @burger with Cheddar, tomato, red onion, pickle, lettuce, mayo, mustard and house-signature red relish. The top-of-the line Trash Can burger was $9.99 and loaded: fried egg, chili, Velveeta, pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeños, banana peppers, chips, fried straws, red onion, red relish and more. Sides included some clever toppings for house-made chips and the shakes were made with real ice cream.
Some who have commented on the AnnArbor.com site suggest @burger’s prices were too high compared with competitors or that its ordering system was too complicated. Another suggests the impending opening of a Five Guys in Ann Arbor doomed it. Maybe. But its closing reaffirms the difficulty every concept faces in surviving in this marketplace.
In other aggregated news (so this is how the others do it!):
► In Homestead, Fla., Sonic has received local approval to open what will be the chain’s first location with a liquor license, the Miami Herald reports. In addition to serving beer and wine, the unit will have “a beach-themed outdoor seating area with umbrellas and white sand, and the ‘o’ in Sonic’s logo is replaced by a red-and-blue beach ball,” the paper reports.
Drew Ritger, Sonic VP for business analysis and development told the Herald, “We’re only planning on doing this in the Miami market, so we thought, ‘Let’s really try to make it something special.’”
► McDonald’s may offer Chicken McBites nationally in the U.S. next year, according to Mark Kalinowski, analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott. Kalinowski spoke with McDonald’s CFO Peter Bensen, who noted that the chain is “picking up the more rotational tactic more common to Europe as regards menu items – swapping things out every 6-to-8 weeks or so.”
Of course, BurgerBusiness.com readers are ahead of the news on this one, having previously read about crispier-than-McNuggets Chicken McBites when they were introduced in Australia last November and again this April when they began testing in Detroit.
In Norway, McDonald’s has added a delightfully named truth-in-advertising sandwich: the “Chicken Ketchup.”