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Q2 earnings roundup: Chuy’s, Ruth’s Chris, STK

Increasing traffic is still a challenge in casual dining, as these three brands showed in their most recent financial results.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Chuy’s Holdings: 1:1 marketing, catering help buoy comps

Same-store sales for the Mexican brand rose 1.9%, largely on pricing. “The key thing for us in the health of our business is same-store customer count increases,” said CEO Steve Hislop. But the brand is “not quite there yet.” Going forward, “that will be the main focus," Hislop said.

The Mexican full-service chain said it benefited from new direct marketing campaigns, which Hislop characterized as an attempt to engage loyalty-program members rather than just reward them. He cited the example of digitally targeting customers who regularly order fried chicken with an invitation to try a new fried-chicken salad. 

Catering was rolled into two more of Chuy’s markets, raising revenues of that form of off-premise business to $1.5 million for the quarter. The service will be rolled into four additional areas by the end of the year, management said.

Net income for the 105-unit chain totaled $6.2 million, a slip of 4.6% from the year-ago tally, on revenues of $113.1 million, up 6.4%. 

The One Group: Net loss of $163,000 despite a 6.4% comp gain at STK 

The operator of the STK steakhouse chain and three other polished-casual restaurant brands posted a 6.4% rise in same-store sales for STK, its main operation, the result in part of a happy hour at all locations and strong events business, said Manny Hilario, CEO of the One Group. 

The multiconcept operator posted a net loss of $163,000, compared with a net profit of $314,000 for the year-ago period. Management attributed the shortfall to higher food costs, particularly for shrimp; construction near one of its New York City restaurants; and the ramp-up costs for new restaurants.

Revenues totaled $23.6 million, an increase of 16.2%.

Hilario reaffirmed One Group’s commitment to pursuing a “capital-light” development plan, whereby the company manages hotel operations owned by others. 

Ruth’s Chris: Comps slide 0.5% on a 1.3% drop in traffic

The high-end steakhouse operator and franchisee posted a 0.5% decrease in same-store sales for its 78 company-run units, with a 1.3% decline in traffic, largely offset by pricing, new initiatives to boost bar business and Easter falling within the second quarter this year, management said. Comps were positive during June, said CEO Cheryl Henry.

Revenues increased 0.6% to $110.2 million, yielding a net income of $9.3 million, down 2.8% from a year ago.

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