jim n nicks menu

Jim N Nicks Menu Gets Ready to Grow, With Bolstered Leadership

June 8, 2022

Jim N Nicks Menu Community Barbecue has been a household name for its slow-cooked, delicious barbecue for more than 35 years. It shouldn’t surprise that the brand has taken a similar, patient approach to one of the biggest growth campaigns in the company’s history.

Larry Ryback, the CEO of Cotton Patch Cafe, and Tijuana flats, said that the company has spent the past year and half building the right team for expansion. After a successful tenure with Pie Five and Tijuana Flats, Perry Jones became Vice President of Development. Billy Koehler is VP of Information Technology. He previously worked for Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola. Jim N Nicks Menu has also increased regional field support and strengthened management to streamline operations.

Roark Capital purchased the restaurant in July 2017. It became the 60th multi-unit company and the 20th restaurant brand for the private equity firm. Roark Capital also makes strategic investments in Inspire Brands, FOCUS Brands, The Cheesecake Factory and Hardee’s. The firm oversees $33 billion in assets and has acquired 95 franchise/multi-location brands that generate $54 billion in revenues across 64,000 locations.

Ryback believes that Jim ‘N’ Nick’s will be able to open up to 30 stores owned by the company with a bolstered leadership team and an experienced ownership group in the next three-years.

The CEO states, “We have the right team.” “There have been many efforts to put the company in a position where it could grow in a healthy manner because that’s what’s most important.”

There are 38 locations of the chain, including 11 in Alabama and 11 in Georgia. Two in North Carolina and three in South Carolina are also present. One each is located in Colorado and Florida. Jim ‘N Nicholas’s already has brand equity in certain markets, such as Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta and Charlotte, Charleston, South Carolina. This will be the place where growth will begin. This will be the focus of most of the work over the next two-years. The chain will expand into new areas in year three, though the company is still unsure of where.

Ryback said that Jim ‘N Nicholas’s does not want to go too far in expanding. The chain plans to open five restaurants between now and 2022. After that, it will open 10 more in 2023, and 15 in 2024.

The CEO says, “All that depends on how good we do the first five.” “… We believe there is plenty of whitespace. There is plenty of growth potential.”

Jim ‘N Nicholas stores typically measure 5,500 square feet and include a 750-square foot patio. The brand is currently working on a prototype that will shrink the box to 4,000 to 4,500 sq. feet and include a similar-sized patio. After the success of its model in Niceville, Florida, the chain plans to expand into off-premises locations. These will range from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. Ryback believes there is potential to expand this style in smaller markets, which might not be able to support a full-sized restaurant.

Every building type, including the casual-dining ones, has drive-thru, take-out and third-party delivery. Before COVID, sales were divided 50/50 between dine-in and off-premises. But now, two-thirds are outside of the four walls. Ryback states that drive-thru will require more space so the chain will likely be more interested in suburban locations. However, Ryback also says that the brand won’t ignore urban opportunities.

“One of the reasons Jim ‘Nnick’s is unique and exciting to expand is the fact that we have multiple-revenue channels,” says the restaurant leader.” Casual dining is a different story. Most casual restaurants don’t have drive throughs and many are trying to build off-premise businesses where Jim ‘Nnick’s has been part of their DNA for decades.

He says, “The drive-thru is something we’ve had since over two decades.” We had that time to refine our menu and our ability [drive-thru] to execute it in addition to traditional dining and takeout. Then, about a year later, we added third-party delivery. It has been an integral part of our brand for a long time, and we strive to improve every day.

Ryback understands that the best real estate is not only available, but Ryback also knows the importance of high-quality management in order to manage each store efficiently. Jim ‘N Nicks has already made the necessary investments. A managing partner program was recently introduced by the company. This allows general managers to receive a premium salary, increase their bonus potential by 25%. Participate in long-term incentives through their restaurant’s performance. You can also enjoy car and dining allowances.

Jim’N Nicks offers hourly work at as low as $20 an hour for a variety of positions. Including cooks, dishwashers, chefs, cashiers, servers, and pit masters.

This comes amid a long-running job shortage in the restaurant industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 10.9 million new job openings in August. A large portion of these jobs was for accommodation and food service. According to Black Box Workforce Intelligence, full-service brands have 6.2 fewer employees at the back of their house than in 2019, and 2.8 fewer at the front.

Ryback claims that the managing partner program has attracted much attention. Both internally and externally, even though it is just 60 days old.

Ryback states that “we’ve been lucky through the labor crunch, the pandemic, to have really low managerial turnover, and I attribute this to the culture of our company.” “I believe Jim ‘N Nicks is a company that truly cares about people. They treat people with respect, and they genuinely want to help people grow and reach their goals in their careers. We’re fortunate to have experienced low turnover in management, I believe.

Jim ‘N Nicks will ensure that growth is efficient and responsible. Ryback and his team recognize, however, that execution boils down to hiring, training and paying more than the average.

The CEO points out that as long as the brand stays true to these values, expansion will continue as planned.

Ryback states that “we feel we have the brand we want, the operation of the company where it is needed, our financial performance [wherever we want], and, most importantly, the people we need,” Ryback said.

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