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- 2016 - September - 27th -

‘Legacy’ restaurants going through makeovers to attract millennials

  • Ruby Tuesday

  • Arby's

  • Domino's

  • Wendy’s “Image Activation” concept includes an ultramodern design.

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Responding to market trends, restaurants like Ruby Tuesday, Arby’s, Domino’s and Wendy’s are among the latest players in the food chain to renovate their Jacksonville locations or build anew.

Along with continually revamping their menus, the restaurants are investing in updating their brick-and-mortar stores.

Adweek.com reported this month the redesign of many “legacy” restaurants stems from the need to appeal to millennials, generally the population from the teens to the mid-30s.

Customers look for pleasant, well-designed, clean environments with more than just reliable food and quick service, Adweek said. It reported the whole look, tone and feel are important.

First, Ruby Tuesday.

Plans were filed for interior and exterior remodeling for two Ruby Tuesday restaurants in Jacksonville and work can be expected on three more.

Nationwide, the chain intends to spend almost $40 million to enhance its signature Garden Bar, remodel and catch up on maintenance, National Restaurant News reported in October.

The company has submitted building-permit applications to renovate its restaurants in Regency at 1022 Hospitality Lane and in North Jacksonville at 1360 Airport Road.

Plans show fresh painting and awnings outside and a new Garden Bar, furnishings, ceiling tiles and lighting inside.

The remodeling at the Regency location, built in 2002, carries a construction cost of $150,000 while the cost at the airport site, built in 2001, is $253,000.

A letter included with the Regency application from the state Department of Business & Professional Regulation Division of Hotels and Restaurants also refers to cosmetic changes at the restaurants in Windsor Commons, Fleming Island and St. Augustine.

Ruby Tuesday announced in August it would close 95 restaurants, affecting one in Orange Park.

Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday Inc. now owns and franchises 615 restaurants in 42 states and internationally.

Ruby Tuesday has not responded to several emails for comment.

The casual-dining chain last overhauled its décor in 2008, removing Tiffany-style lamps, polished brass, striped awnings, antiques and curios with a more contemporary look featuring earth-tone colors, upholstered seats and commissioned artwork and photographs along with different lighting fixtures.

That schedule called for more than 600 restaurants to be remodeled for about $65 million.

Arby’s new design to ‘Inspire’ customers

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc., based in Atlanta, has been remodeling its fast-food restaurants to the “Inspire” design to be completed in 2017.

In Jacksonville, it has remodeled several locations. Two more are in review at 9361 Atlantic Blvd., at $165,000, and at 9171 Baymeadows Road, at a cost of $170,000.

Spokesman Jason Rollins said two more are slated for remodeling by the end of this year at 10160 Philips Highway and 1691 Wells Road in Orange Park.

Rollins said Jacksonville “continues to be a strong market for us.”

At least 17 Arby’s operate in Northeast Florida.

When launched in 2013, Arby’s said the comprehensive, systemwide remodeling program for its U.S. restaurants would include a new design as well as menu enhancements.

Inside, Arby’s updated its color palette and added touches like subway tiling and stainless steel, communal tables, contemporary lighting and chalkboard graphics.

Outside, the design includes red awnings, new signage, white brick and upgraded lighting and landscaping.

Domino’s adding ‘pizza theaters’

At Domino’s Pizza Inc., the carryout stores are being updated to a pizza theater concept — and some also feature indoor seating.

Spokeswoman Danielle Bulger said 22 of the 48 Jacksonville area stores have been relocated or reimaged to feature the pizza theater concept. The remaining stores will be converted by the end of 2017.

The pizza theater concept is about bringing the pizza-making experience to the forefront.

Bulger said the first thing carryout customers would see at the old stores were pizza boxes and a cash register.

“Our new design provides a much warmer and welcoming environment,” she said.

The latest appears to be a relocated store at 5025 San Jose Blvd., which will be almost 2,000 square feet in size. It is the relocation of the Domino’s at 4468 Hendricks Ave., a mile north of the new site.

Plans and a building-permit application filed with the city show the San Jose Boulevard space will be remodeled at a construction cost of $200,000 to include at least 25 seats at tables, booths and a counter.

That cost does not include the other elements involved in the project, such as equipment and furnishings.

Bulger said the San Jose Boulevard store should open by year-end.

While Domino’s stores are not required to have indoor seating, many do. She said that decision is up to the franchisees.

“Many of the Domino’s stores that feature the old design, which are smaller, are opting to relocate to have more space and indoor seating,” she said.

Bulger said all Domino’s stores worldwide will be converted by year-end 2017 and all new stores will be built as pizza theaters.

Domino’s has 13,000 stores in more than 80 markets worldwide. It is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

In 2014, the chain said the remodeling effort would be a catalyst for long-term, same-store sales growth. Its previous major design overhaul was in 1997.

It said it expected the re-imaging costs to range from $40,000 to $55,000 per store, while new locations would cost about $250,000 to $350,000.

Wendy’s continues its ‘image activation’

Consumers at new and remodeled area Wendy’s restaurants should see lounge seating with flat-screen TVs, a fireplace, Wi-Fi and Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, among other updates.

The company is remodeling restaurants under its “Image Activation” program and all of its new locations are being built with the design.

The owner of the area Wendy’s has completed six remodeling projects in Jacksonville and is building two new locations. The restaurant at 3100 Emerson St. in Southside should open at year-end, while a new one is planned in OakLeaf Town Center.

Wen South LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Meritage Hospitality Group, paid $925,000 for almost an acre at 9510 Applecross Road in OakLeaf. Meritage Hospitality Group, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., bought the property from Ameris Bank.

Spokesman Tyler Boik said today the new look will feature “bold, sleek, ultramodern designs that enhance the guest experience.”

Construction should start next summer in OakLeaf, pending permitting.

Boik said Meritage is exploring multiple projects in the Jacksonville area for remodeling or new construction. “We are planning an aggressive schedule for the rest of this year and going into next year,” he said.

He said previously the remodeling and new projects range from $250,000 to $1.2 million.

In February, 4-traders.com reported the construction or remodel of “Image Activation” restaurants is a piece of the Wendy’s brand revitalization.

Meritage owns and operates 177 Wendy’s locations across eight states.

Dining notes

• Piada Italian Street Food, Newk’s Eatery and Starbucks Corp. are a step closer to opening at Town Center Promenade along Town Center Parkway near St. Johns Town Center. The city approved permits Friday for construction of three buildings. Piada will occupy its own building while the Starbuck’s neighboring tenant will be Mattress Firm and Newk’s next-door neighbor will be Aspen Dental.

• Waffle House intends to build a 38-seat, 1,726-square-foot restaurant at 9041 New Kings Road at a construction cost of $253,000. The city is reviewing the permit application.

• Renna’s Pizza intends to open in September in the Reedy Branch Commons shopping center at 10920 Baymeadows Road. Renovation of the 2,407-square-foot space is shown as $120,000 on a building-permit application. It has three other area locations.

• Two more McDonald’s restaurants applied for renovations to add customer kiosks for the “Signature Crafted” program. They are the eighth and ninth to signal they will add the kiosks, which will allow customers to order their meals and specify preferred breads and toppings. The program should be available next year in most of the 52 Duval County McDonald’s restaurants. The latest, at 4291 Southside Blvd. and at 14030 Hubble Drive in River City Marketplace, each will be renovated at a construction cost of $50,000.

kmathis@jaxdailyrecord.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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