Hi and question about bringing an old chain back to life.

Junior Burger
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2009/05/07 08:36:48 (permalink)

Hi and question about bringing an old chain back to life.

First post.  First, I gotta say, I love the idea of Roadfood.  To me, its all about the food.  I mean, atmosphere, questionable service, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING is behind the food in importance to me.  I mean the greasiest hole in the wall is heaven if they can make and serve something dreams are made out of.  Tough to find co diners though.  "I want ATMOSPHERE".....Oh boy, I'm eating alone again.

But, anyway.  I reached an old post by googling Beefsteak Charlies.  While all seemed to remember the concept fondly, many seemed to think it is a concept that would and could never be sustained today.  While some aspects must update, I think it was such a unique concept that it could be tweaked and run today.

I collect restaurant menus of out of business restaurants, classic restaurants and funky restaurants.  I also worked, while going to college, at a Beefsteak Charlies when they were booming.  And I mean BOOMING.  I know the good and the bad about the chain.  And with todays economy and eating habits, I want this chain (or the same chain with a different name) to resurface.

I know there is a BC in NYC.  ANd supposedly another opening in NJ, I think.  What do you guys think?  BC was great chain, where you got your money's worth and when run correctly, it was pretty damn good food.  Not the best steak, ribs or seafood in the world, but better than some I eat now that are supposedly a higher end animal.

-Me, I would think you would have to:
-Update the dark atmosphere. I know dark is steakhouse, but higher end.
-The booze aspect would have to be tweaked or eliminated and replaced.
-The salad bar would have to be expanded.  But it was a good one back then.  Most of the items were made on premise.
-THe menu would have to include a FEW updated items.
-Shrimp is just about as cheap NOW as it was back then.  While 99.9% of seafood has shot throught the roof, wholesaled shrimp has remained REMARKABLY steady.
-  I think salad bars, antipasto bars, etc are poised to make a comeback. Greens are more popular. "Salads" (even the unhealthy version) are popular, even if its provides a false sense of "healthiness".  And being "free", thats a magic word ALWAYS, especially in this economy.
-Beef will ALWAYS be this countries pride and joy.  Good press, bad press, AMericans eat beef.  And lots of it.  Now the price has gone up considerably, so the prices would have to be adjusted.  But I don't remember being WOWED by the prices back then.  I mean, I didn't consider them high or cheap.  It was what you got for your buck that impressed me.
-On the business end of it, labor was real low. In todays world where GOOD help is almost RIDICULOUSLY rare, this is a good thing.  They used RUSSIAN service which enabled the owner to cut kitchen help drastically.

WHile my restaurant days have long been over, I LOVE kicking concepts around and trying to figure out how to make them work.  Maybe BC has a place in my heart because I loved working there, but I KNOW how concepts get hot and spread like wildfire.  In the northeast, the past two decades saw BBQ come in, Mexican TRY to come in, and now we are in a burger war.  I think the next 10 years are gonna be family priced steak years.  COmfort food is here to stay, food police be damned.  Americans are having kids above the world pace (especially Europe).  Family meals and time together has rebounded.  And the economy is going nowhere quick. 

I think someone is gonna create his or herself a nice little niche.

Thanks for reading this.

3 Replies Related Threads

    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Hi and question about bringing an old chain back to life. 2009/05/07 16:17:22 (permalink)
    What is Russian service?
    Oh, and welcome aboard. I don't know a thing about your question, but your enthusiasm really comes through your post. I hope someone can help you.  
    post edited by mbrookes - 2009/05/07 16:19:48
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Hi and question about bringing an old chain back to life. 2009/05/07 18:18:03 (permalink)
    Part of the problem is the fickle and hypocritial attitude of American diners. They demand low fat,smaller portions,healthier alternatives, and the media generally derides any chain restaurant establishment that goes against this politically correct image. Red meat is currently equated with a coronary on a plate. The media has a field day with the image of a large platter overflowing with a huge steak as an image of gluttony and comitting suicide with a fork and knife. Mention the name of an all-you-can eat emporium such as Golden Corral in polite conversation and watch the reaction. A restaurant chain that emphasizes excess would have a difficult time promoting itself even though plenty of these hypocrites would patronize it. Then there is another issue. BC as I recall was more male oriented by today's standards even though it was a typical family restaurant of the times. Pitchers of beer,rowdiness of younger groups,plates overflowing with red meat; noisy and dingy. That went well in the 70's as a family restaurant, but nowadays most females would rather an family enviornment similar to a fern bar style restaurant. The name itself would be a liability. Restaurants are going out of their way to re-brand themselves such as dropping the word "fried" from the corporate name because of this PC nonsense. Beefsteak Charlie's with the corpulent mascot/logo of years past would be as successful as a chain called Pork Palace with a porcine mascot. Regarding the liquor, that's truly an individual's responsibility. BC's today would be criticized for promoting excessive libation, yet when was the last time you visited Olive Garden? You can't turn around without the server trying to offer or refill your glass of wine or offering Bar service. That chain appears to go out of their way to annoyingly promote their alcholic products, yet it doesn't seem as though anyone calls them on that.
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Hi and question about bringing an old chain back to life. 2009/05/08 01:50:12 (permalink)
    Hi gabagool:
    I guess you saw this thread here on Roadfood already:
    There is a Beefsteak Charlie's that opened a short while ago on Long Island, not NYC. Their local newspaper, Newsday, has this Topix page about it:
    Those listings on google for the Manhattan restaurants are bogus. Those used to be locations of restaurants.
    You might want to make a day trip of going out to Long Island. That mall has free parking. I just think it is a concept that time has passed by.
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