Del Frisco’s airs new turnaround efforts for lower-end Grille

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group is tweaking the turnaround plan for the company’s least-expensive steakhouse chain, Del Frisco’s Grille, after research revealed that the concept is perceived as pricey and slow.

“We are giving off more of a fine-dining vibe than we intended,” COO Jeff Carcara said Tuesday morning during a conference call with analysts.

Recipes have been simplified to cut prep times, and new, presumably faster kitchen equipment is being tested at two stores, Carcara indicated.

Consumer research concluded during the first quarter highlighted “specific opportunities in menu development, brand messaging and architectural design,” Carcara said. He did not cite specifics, but noted that the chain needs to present more appeal to Gen X customers in particular.

Toward that end, the 17-unit chain plans to stress the word “Grille” in all of its advertising and related marketing, Carcara said. The message will focus on “the affordability of our experience and the diversity of our menu, which includes many locally inspired, freshly made dishes” that provide more than just steak options, he added.

“Speeding up [the] pace of the Grille's dining experience from seating guests to serving them quicker was widely viewed as an important opportunity that needed to be addressed,” Carcara said. 

The Grille’s comparable store sales declined during the first quarter by 3.5 percent year-over-year.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group also operates Del Frisco’s Double Eagle and Sullivan’s.

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