Operations

Black Bear aims for more dinner traffic with nightly changeover

Photograph: Shutterstock

The Black Bear Diner chain is pulling a quick change every afternoon at 4 in a stab at making the popular breakfast option look, feel and even sound like a worthy consideration for dinner.

A nighttime-only menu features four new homestyle meats: Tri-tip steak, roasted turkey, smoked brisket and a roasted half-chicken.

On Fridays, dinner patrons also have the option of an all-you-can-eat fish fry, and Black Bear features a prime rib dinner special on Saturdays. 

To conjure more of a dinnertime feel, the restaurants play what headquarters describes as “ambiance-setting evening music,” and some even dim the lights. The servers also wear different uniforms after 4 to make the diner-like establishments seem like a proper dinner setting.    

Chains that offer three meals a day to a largely family-oriented clientele have long strived to boost their dinner business. Success in that endeavor has figured prominently into the gains of such competitors as Denny’s, IHOP and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.  

Like some of those brands, Black Bear is ramping up the homestyle aspect of its fare, which is served in heaping portions. As part of the dinner push, the chain is also tweaking its Comfort Food Dinners: A slow-roasted pot roast is now served in what Black Bear characterizes as a richer beef and mushroom gravy, and the meatloaf has been reformulated and served in a larger portion. 

Black Bear consists of 130 sit-down restaurants in 13 states, with a concentration along the Pacific coast.

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