What Marketers Wish For In 2007

The National Restaurant Association predicts 2007 will be a good year for restaurant operators, with 5% real growth and total sales of $537 billion.

To get an idea of how they plan to grab their slice, Marketing Daily asked a few marketing executives from a variety of chain restaurant companies, both large and small, both full service and quick service, to reveal their business wish lists for 2007.

"My wish for 2007 is for every restaurant guest to have a BK Crown Card in their wallet," said Brian Gies, vice president of marketing at Miami-based Burger King. Burger King introduced the Crown Card, its reloadable gift card, late last year; Wendy's, IHOP and McDonald's also rolled out gift cards, making the gift-card trend undeniably hot.

Other marketers addressed legislative concerns. "My wish for 2007 is for Congress to finally pass a sane immigration policy," said Karen Eadon, senior vice president/chief marketing officer at El Pollo Loco, Irvine, Calif. The chain operates 352 quick-service restaurants that specialize in marinated, grilled chicken.

Dawn Boulanger, vice president of marketing for 230-unit O'Charley's, a Nashville, Tenn.-based full-service concept, addressed both industry and socioeconomic trends in her reply. Her wish list includes "double-decker revenue growth, a tasty alternative to trans fats, a 'can't pass it up' new menu item, reasonable gasoline prices, and, a hearty appetite for all."

Michael Polydoroff's wishes are similarly expansive. "My business wish list for 2007 includes a strong, healthy economy with lots of hungry consumers looking for great food, great value and great service at a family restaurant," said Polydoroff, director of sales promotion and licensing at Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny's.

Bob Hogan, senior vice president, marketing and strategic planning at Madison, Ga.-based Avado Brands, has a wish a little closer to home. "All I want is positive comp sales in 2007 and fabulous openings for our new Pablo's Fajita Grill concept," said Hogan.

Avado, which operates Don Pablo's, a full-service Mexican chain, and Hops, a brewpub concept, emerged from Chapter 11 in May of 2005. The company expects to open the first Pablo's Fajita Grill, a fast-casual spinoff of Don Pablo's, later this year.

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