J’s Restaurants Inc. is testing beer subscriptions and ways to increase seating within COVID-19 capacity restrictions, executives said Thursday.
The Huntington Beach, Calif.-based casual-dining chain reported same-store sales declines of 30.2% in the third quarter ended Sept. 29.
“While I’m pleased with our progress on many fronts, we realize the road to post-COVID normalcy will not be a straight line,” said Greg Trojan, BJ’s CEO, in an earnings call. “I do know, however, that when we get there, our guests will be back in our restaurants in full force. The will and desire to dine out, enjoying food in a social setting is one of life’s real joys.”
Trojan said he expects BJ’s to gain back pre-pandemic in-restaurant volumes, which it is working toward with expanded patios and in-store partitions, as well as to continue seeing elevated off-premise business.
Trojan said BJ’s has “made important additions to our off-premise menu to adapt to a COVID world.”
The brand introduced individually portioned group meals to its catering offerings, and they are now accounting for more than 20% of BJ’s catering sales, he said.
“These, together with other sales-building initiatives, including our expanded family feast and bundle offerings have been big contributors to our overall off-premise growth,” Trojan said.
In early September, Trojan said, BJ’s began testing a beer subscription service in some of its Northern California restaurants.
“We’ve learned a lot in a few short weeks since launch,” he said, “with the most encouraging data point being the high level of engagement of members once they sign up. The level of activity around the member benefits is a great indication of future word-of-mouth subscriber increases, minimization of subscriber defections and ultimately, the program’s ability to drive in-restaurant frequency.”…