I decided to do my business analysis on three different types of restaurants based out of the Ohio area. I choose one that I’m very familiar with as I used to work for them and my uncle is the Senior VP of food and beverage, and the executive corporate chef. I grew up about four miles away from the corporate offices for Wendy’s and thought they would be a good fit as they are well known throughout the world. Lastly, I chose Perkins, which I didn’t realize it until I did a quick search, originated out of Southern Ohio, but is currently headquartered out of Memphis, TN. All three are in the same industry (food) but take a much different approach to their industry.
Owner and originator, Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy’s© restaurant at 257 E. Broad street in Downtown Columbus, OH on November 15th, 1969. Rumored to have been inspired by a hometown restaurant and their uniquely square burgers, Dave wanted to showcase the quality of meat visible by the corners outside the bun. The success of Wendy’s restaurants grew quickly, and had aired commercials, signed franchise agreements and even expanded internationally, into Canada, in just over 7 years. Today, the company is in 32 different countries with over 6,500 locations. Wendy’s most recognizable menu items are the “Dave’s Single”, Frosty (a milkshake like dessert), and most recently sea salt French fries
In similar fashion, Perkins© was modeled after an existing restaurant concept. While traveling in search of gold, Matt and Ivan Perkins stumbled across Smitty’s Pancake House. After an agreement to the use of the “secret recipe”, with some from exceptions from the owner, they opened their first Perkins Pancake house outside of Cincinnati in Silverton, OH. Expansion took a little longer than Wendy’s but expanding the menu and some creative advertising by franchisee, and later the future owner, Wyman Nelson, Perkins had branched out to over 200 restaurants in just twenty years. Since then the owners have changed and numerous mergers have taken place, but Perkins claim to currently have 400 restaurants in operation.
Restaurateur, Cameron Mitchell graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York City and opened his first restaurant concept in the little town of Linworth, Ohio in 1993. It took family investment, a long period without a paycheck for Cameron, but eventually became a success. The restaurant, Cameron’s American Bistro, helped develop Mitchell’s vision and goal of “great people delivering genuine hospitality”. The company prides itself in taking care of its employees, who are then more willing to take care of their customers.
Every restaurant has its own approach to try and create a competitive advantage. Wendy’s pioneered the major chain restaurants introduction to the drive-thru window in the early 1970’s. Then in the late 1980’s, Wendy’s also became the 1st fast-food chain to create a menu at an exclusive price. With the focus on customer “value”, the 99? super value menu was created. It took nearly ten years before competitors like Burger King and McDonald’s followed suit. These unique and innovative ideas are what helped keep Wendy’s in the mix in such a highly competitive market.
Although it was originally slated as a “Pancake house”, the addition of sandwiches and in-store bakeries helped the company continue to thrive in the 1960’s. As mentioned earlier, franchisee and future owner Wyman Nelson, helped expand the brand with some creative outside the box thinking at the time. Mr. Nelson pushed for an expanded menu, opened up the store to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and used advertising and a name change to “Perkins: Cake and Stakes” to help inform the public of the new changes.
To help emphasize the great hospitality that Mitchell restaurants focus on the company tells the story of the “milkshake” that has become iconic to the company and employees. As the story goes, Mr. Mitchell was out to eat with his family at a restaurant and he wanted to get his child a milkshake. However, milkshakes were not on the menu. He asked the server if they could make a milkshake and the server said “no” we don’t have those. He then asked the manager the same question, getting a similar response. It befuddled Cameron as the restaurant had all of the ingredients, including a blender, and chose to unaccommodated the simple request.
It’s almost as though Cameron had an epiphany that day as he then began instituting “The answer is yes! What’s the question?” as a key philosophy at Cameron Mitchell restaurants. There are numerous stories tied to this, but it goes to show the length to which the staff to try and accommodate every customer.
Although all three of these businesses operate in the same “industry”, I believe they have some significant differences in their target markets. Wendy’s is clearly targeting the price conscience consumer with its “value menu”. They are also looking for those that additionally value quick service and convenient locations. Perkins also targets those that are price conscience, but focus more on “family” dining than quick and convenient. Mitchell restaurants on the other hand, target the high quality of food, dining, and service.
All three companies have found significant success over several decades with taking pride in doing what they do. Wendy’s and Perkins seem to continue to adapt and be flexible with the market, adding various options for those that are more health conscience. Mitchell restaurants continue to develop more concepts while priding itself on incredible hospitality. While each might be known for a sort of “specialty” all three have shown that they understand the value in a quality product.
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