Boston Market making barbecue its business

April 1, 2013

After two years of research and tests, Boston Market is adding St. Louis Style Ribs to its menu. The move makes Boston Market the first national fast casual restaurant in the United States to offer rotisserie chicken paired with St. Louis Style ribs, according to a company press release.

The St. Louis Style bone-in, seasoned, slow-smoked, spare ribs are brushed in a zesty, sweet barbeque sauce and start at $10.99 with two sides and homemade cornbread.

"This launch is a game changer for us," said George Michel, CEO of Boston Market. "We intend to own the pairing of rotisserie chicken with St. Louis Style ribs in this country. And we think our customers are going to love it."

Boston Market chose the St. Louis Style spare rib after talking to rib experts nationwide and conducting thorough tests with consumers, Michel said. The St. Louis Style ribs are so meaty that, in testing them against casual dining competitors, Boston Market found that a 1/4 rack of the St. Louis variety yielded almost 2 ounces more meat than a 1/2 rack of babyback ribs from competitors.

"We're delivering a meatier, tastier rib with a better price point," Michel said. "Plus, consumers are able to enjoy high-quality ribs at Boston Market with great, attentive, friendly service. We bring food to our guests, refill drinks and clear tables, but families don't have to add an additional 15 to 20 percent gratuity at the end of their meal."

The ribs are available for a limited time. They will be served as individual meals with two sides and homemade cornbread. Choices include:

  • 1/4 Rack of ribs with 1/4 Signature Rotisserie Chicken for $12.99;
  • 1/2 Rack of Ribs for $12.99; and
  • 1/4 Rack of Ribs for $10.99.

The ribs are also served a la carte and in family meals as well as through catering.

The launch of a new protein comes on the heels of a strong turnaround for Boston Market. The company has posted 30 consecutive months of positive comp sales, up more than 6.5 percent year-over-year in comparison to this time last year, while preparing to open its first new restaurants in six years.

Turning the brand around
The turnaround began in 2010, when Boston Market implemented a program to raise the level of operational execution and service, Michel said. The company replaced all plastic tableware with real plates and silverware and added new restaurant positions designed specifically to ensure an exceptional customer experience with the highest quality food.

Michel attributes the company's continued success to the rebuilding of its foundation. That effort ultimately gave the chain the ability to make successful new product introductions, most recently demonstrated through the positive consumer responses to Tuscan Rotisserie Chicken and Market Bowls.

In July and August of last year, Boston Market completed market tests for its St. Louis Style Ribs in Norfolk, Va., and Buffalo, N.Y. Boston Market also just concluded a 10-week fully advertised market test in Baltimore, where results nearly doubled expectations; ribs comprised roughly 13 percent of total protein transactions, second only to the company's signature Rotisserie Chicken.

The Boston Market St. Louis Style ribs will be supported with a fully integrated advertising campaign, public relations and online support. The campaign will include an April 7 Free Standing Insert (FSI), 15- and 30-second television ads that will run on national cable and local broadcasts in key markets, point-of-purchase, banner ads, Search Engine Marketing and emails to Boston Market's Very Important Persons (VIP) list.

"The launch of ribs is an important move for Boston Market," said Sara Bittorf, Boston Market's chief brand officer. "The combination of our new rib offering, paired with a robust advertising and public relations campaign, is designed to help us to grow awareness and excitement with our current guests, while bringing in new customers."

Also in April, Boston Market will launch its "We Love the IRS" promotion to celebrate the Ribs' launch timeframe. "IRS" stands for Incredible Rib Specials. Deals will be highlighted on the website.

The website will also feature real employees sharing their love for the Boston Market ribs through their own original self-expression. Additionally, the "We Love the IRS" promotion will be featured on the page and Twitter @bostonmarket.

Read more about operations management.

Topics: Operations Management

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