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Smokey Bones changing up their formula?

Caught this on MarketWatch today:

DES MOINES, Iowa (MarketWatch) — Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) said Wednesday it may change the name of its struggling Smokey Bones barbecue chain as part of efforts to improve its appeal.

Because the casual-dining operator believes the chain’s positioning is “too narrow,” the company said several barbecue-oriented items will be removed from Smokey Bones’ menu.
“Significant change is clearly necessary,” Darden President Drew Madsen said on a conference call.

“We have identified a new direction that eliminates barbecue-centric parts of the brand, which are a barrier to increased frequency,” he added.

Madsen wouldn’t elaborate but said the brand won’t be moved into the highly competitive bar-and-grill sector.

No new restaurants beyond the five now under construction will open in the current fiscal year for the brand, Madsen said.

The 126-unit brand saw its same-store sales drop 7.7% in Darden’s fiscal fourth quarter. For the year, they were down 3.7%.

I’m a bit saddened by the thought that they may be venturing away from the current formula, but in business you have to do what makes you money. My first Smokey Bones experience was down in San Antonio, when I didn’t even realize that we had two up in this area. While Amanda and I don’t dine out frequently, we both agree that as far as chain restaurants go, Smokey Bones is one of the best.

What are other people’s favorite BBQ joints? BW’s is right around the corner from us and our favorite local food joint. I’ve been to Kentucky Greg’s Hickory Pit (also very good) and Tony Rome’s (not impressed). Fat Bob’s is still on my to-eat list. Brisket for Chucklehead has yet to invite us over for dinner. 😉

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  1. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to convince my wife that throwig a party at our house for fourty near total strangers is a good idea but she isn’t buying. Hopefully after the blogger picnic…

    BTW, I got the permit in the mail and we have shelter 7, up on the hill near the top of the toboggan slope. I’m torn about what I want to cook, though. I really can’t bring the smoker, so I’m left with a Weber 22.5 incher. I can make great Q, but only in small amounts. sigh…

  2. I’ve got one of those R2D2 shaped smoker/grill combos. I’m going to try and do two 12 lb turkies in it for the 4th. I did one 16-18 lb one last year. Wish me luck!

  3. Very similar. Only differences is that mine is multi-fuel (LP, charcol, or wood) and the center ring is smaller and can be removed so it will function as a grill. When smoking, I tend to use propane since it’s easier to control the temperature and all the flavor comes from the wood, but I love using it as a charcoal/wood grill.

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