Menu changes on tap for Einstein Noah

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — Identifying all-day option breakfast products as an "underpenetrated" segment, Paul Murphy, president and chief executive officer of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, on Wednesday said the company plans to broaden its menu this year in an effort to "get more customers more opportunities to use us more often."

Speaking Jan. 16 at the Cowen and Company Consumer Conference in New York, Mr. Murphy said the Lakewood, Colo.-based company will unveil a new menu in about three weeks that augments bagel sales.

"Five years ago, 80% of our business was derived from a bagel basis," he said. "Today, that’s 60%. We need to continue to move that number. We are going to respond to the wants and needs of the guests in the marketplace."

Mr. Murphy said Einstein Noah plans to add a lighter fare to its menu, including wrap sandwiches and a "Choose Two" option of soup, salad and a sandwich. The company also will focus on the afternoon daypart with the introduction of pizza bagels and bagel dogs.

Hot sandwiches also will become a focus, with restaurants adding a Reuben and a Rachel, as well as hot melt sandwiches.

In addition to food products, Mr. Murphy said Einstein Noah will look to grow its coffee business, which currently only accounts for 9% of system sales. While he noted the company does not expect to reach the 60% sales figure of some restaurants, he believes Einstein Noah "can raise that number by increasing awareness and making sure we call attention to our coffee offerings."

In terms of guest experience, Mr. Murphy said Einstein Noah restaurants must be not only attractive, but functional. By the end of 2008 the company expects to have its Kitchen Display System (K.D.S.) and wireless system in place in more than half its units. Mr. Murphy said the K.D.S. has improved order accuracy to better than 99% and has helped the restaurant become 20% to 25% faster in getting orders into guests’ hands.

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