Bigger & Better: Frisch’s Gets a 2016 Makeover on Verge of Significant Franchise Growth in 2017
Bigger & Better: Frisch’s Gets a 2016 Makeover on Verge of Significant Franchise Growth in 2017

While 2016’s focus was on shoring up operations and enhancing the overall restaurant model and menu, Frisch’s is now ready to grow in 2017.

At the close of 2015, 1851 Franchise named Frisch’s one of the top 25 brands to watch in the New Year. As we near the one year point, there have certainly been a lot of big changes at Frisch’s.

After being acquired by NRD Capital in 2015 for $175 million, the new ownership team went to work upgrading and improving the Frisch’s chain, while also making sure to treat the brand’s heritage, family legacy, and loyal fans with respect and sensitivity. Jason Vaughn, a veteran of Yum! Brands and the Wendy’s systems took the helm of CEO in April and has overseen a variety of changes that have left the Big Boy better off than ever before—all while maintaining the tenants upon which the Frisch family built the brand.

“I grew up with the Big Boy brand, so it always meant something to me and my family,” said Vaughn. “What the Frisch family and Frisch’s brand has always provided is quality food at a good price point. The Frisch family has embraced me. I feel very privileged to help lead this brand’s journey. I’ve spent time with the Frisch family – the origin is very important to me.”

Vaughn told 1851 that they’ve renamed one of their meeting rooms the “Dave Frisch Room.” He also said that he’s spent extensive time talking with the family about the elements of the company and experience that were important to Dave.

“We really aren’t changing anything,” Vaughn added. “If anything, we’re going back to our origin and back to our roots. We set out to build upon the idea of a truly guest-centric culture. If you’re one of our long-time fans, you can still get what you love – but we’re signaling to potential new guests that we have new offerings and quality that they’ve got to try.”

One noticeable signal was the makeover of the iconic Big Boy mascot itself. The brand introduced a fresh, but still recognizable, version of Big Boy – nodding to the changing times with a slightly slimmer profile and removing his ever-present burger. This is yet another acknowledgement of the refocus on healthier options, as well as the expanded variety beyond just burgers now available at Frisch’s.

Big Boy’s home got a makeover too. Frisch’s rolled out a brand-new prototype model in Covington featuring brighter lighting, more open space and seating options, and a children’s area. An updated remodel in Blue Ash, Ohio is expected by March 2017. Additionally, Frisch’s rolled out all new uniforms for staff, new menus, rewrapped and updated the food bars, and repainted and redid the drive-thru menu boards.

But it’s not just an aesthetic upgrade. Vaughn and the new leadership team have doubled down on the brand’s focus on quality food at competitive prices, updating the menu to include fresh and modern takes on classics. For example, Frisch’s has long been known for their famous pumpkin pie, so this year, they introduced a pumpkin pie shake for the first time—with a piece of the famous pie inside. Frisch’s also introduced a hit concept with “Brupper” (“breakfast” combined with “supper”) and sales have been extremely strong for those coming to eat traditional breakfast favorites during traditional supper hours. Frisch’s also introduced a new lineup of Dinner Classics – modern takes on dishes that have been Frisch’s favorites for decades and the return of past favorites like meatloaf, which Vaughn believes is just one example of a foundational item from which the brand can continue to innovate.

“We had a great launch with meatloaf. It’s exceeding sales forecasts. For our new users and existing users, we don’t want to just have one meatloaf – we want to have different flavors to build off that platform. We know that there is a lot more we can do out there for things that people are already fans of, but interested in innovative takes,” said Vaughn.

Entering 2017, the plan is to continue telling the brand’s story of fresh food prepared in-house and innovating around the brand’s foundational items. Vaughn notes that the brand has not removed any items from the menu, but is focused on providing a greater variety and healthier options.

But while 2016’s focus was on shoring up operations and enhancing the overall restaurant model and menu, Frisch’s is now ready to grow.

Franchise growth in 2017 will be focused on expanding out from the brand’s existing presence of more than 100 locations across Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky while looking to enter new nearby markets such as Tennessee, specifically with an eye on Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. Additionally, the goal is to complete 15-18 remodels per year across the system while proactively exploring growth through franchise expansion.

“This year, we wanted to get to the right model that is economically good for us. Now, as we move into a franchise growth mindset next year, we have a model that we are proud of and confident in,” said Vaughn.