Michael Hiltzik of the Golden State column in the LA Times reports that President and Chief Executive of Sherman Oaks-based Sizzler USA, Ken Cole, is working on returning the restaurant chain to where it was two decades ago.
A bankruptcy stemming from a troubled marketing plan and an E. coli outbreak in Milwaukee nearly destroyed the chain, but Cole is setting out to rebuild Sizzler’s appeal.
Decisions to increase their buffet setup eventually caused customers to come to Sizzler for the quantity of food rather than quality, and so to meet profit expectations the chain had dropped the quality of their steaks and seafood. Eventually it caused Sizzler’s reputation for value to all but disappear.
Before emerging from bankruptcy protection in 1997, the company shed about half its stores, including most in the Northeast and Midwest. Now, new restaurants will be driven by franchisees, placing the responsibility of profits and quality in the hands of individual franchise owners.
Renovations, and renovation costs, will also be incurred by franchise owners, including the addition of an exposed kitchen.