As a young restaurateur, David Davoudpour would go to Shoneyâ€™s to â€œsteal ideas.â€ Now Mr. Davoudpour is bringing ideas of his own to the family-dining chain.
Shoneyâ€™s was once a coast-to-coast destination for millions of families looking for hearty food at a reasonable price. But a series of management turnovers and changing consumer tastes have shrunk Shoneyâ€™s Corp. to fewer than 300 locations from more than 1,000, and it stopped selling new franchises.
Mr. Davoudpour, who bought the company 2Â½ years ago, has an ambitious plan to turn it around: add upscale fare and fresher ingredients to lure new customers and get more people to choose made-to-order meals, instead of opting for the value-priced buffet bar.
That means striking a difficult balance familiar to any entrepreneur trying to engineer a turnaround: too much change, and the brand may lose its identity and core customers; not enough, and it may not attract new business. But turnarounds are especially difficult for franchisers. Thatâ€™s because Shoneyâ€™s, like many franchisers, has multiple independent operatorsâ€”many of whom regard change as a threat to their investments. So a franchiser has to convince these skeptical operators that itâ€™s in their interest to follow the headquarters-directed game plan. Read on…