Friday, November 15, 2013

Buffets, Inc. Changes Its Name

During the last week in October, 2013, Buffets, Inc. the parent corporation of Old Country Buffet, Ryans, Country Buffet, Fire Mountain, and Hometown Buffet changed its corporate name to Ovation Brands, Inc. A new logo was unveiled at corporate headquarters in Greer, South Carolina at the same time. The new logo is white and blue showing a plate and spoon.

The company claims that the name was changed to celebrate the company's 30th anniversary and to mark a new phase in its "post-turnaround plans".  Nation's Restaurant News quotes Anthony Wedo, CEO and President of, now, Ovation Brands, Inc. saying "We are a different company now; we are foundationally about continuous innovation. We are passionate about building a new operating culture across all of our brands. The name Ovation Brands represents a call to action for all our teammates and guests: Our goal is to ensure that each and every day our six brands are worthy of applause.”  Wedo also stated that the name change would allow the company to develop non-buffet concepts.

Often when a corporation that has had difficulty changes its name it is to put distance and cut recognition and identity with the former corporate name. In a sense, it is a corporation hiding who they were, but still are. And this name change drops the concept of their, to now, main business out of the corporate name. Gone is the word "Buffets".

As we have reported on this site in the past, Buffets, Inc has gone through two bankruptcies in recent years. Wedo was brought into the company this past December to turn the company around. The most recent bankruptcy ended in June 2012. One of the changes that have been instituted has been to change the interiors of the buffets to become a "Market Street" and this has been completed with the Country Buffets in Denver and they claim this has resulted in a "significant double digit" increase in those locations' sales. (Double digit does not sound very significant to me...) There has also been a new advertising campaign to accompany these newly renovated buffets - "Make it Right". In these ads, Wedo pledges a "commitment to quality food and service". If you have not seen photos of a "Market Street", think Golden Corral which has had this concept in layout for years.

That is quite a pledge considering what many experience in their buffets now. They have a long way to go to quality food and, in particular, quality service. Many of the Old Country Buffets - the largest of the chains - are understaffed and unable to provide quality service even with the best intent. Perhaps the company needs to look at increasing the number of employees at each location and insure that management both trains and constantly supervises their employees, if they are truly serious about quality service. But now Ovations Brands, Inc. has "a call to action" for those of us who dine at their restaurants and the employees who work at them. Is our call to action to continue coming? If that is the case then they have a lot of work ahead of them directly with their "teammates" (employees) to get to work and make the buffets someplace that their guest actually want to go back to. That will be a big job for Mr. Wedo and Ovation Brands, Inc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are half right and half wrong with everything you are saying.

Wedo has good intentions and will turn the company around. The problem is Mr. Wedo is a bit out of touch with some of the things his executive team is doing. When you say the restaurants are grossly understaffed you are correct. Labor guidelines are being handed down from people that sit in offices and cubicals and these same people are only trying to impress the CEO by handing him a sheet of paper showing how much $ they saved every month by running "tight labor guidelines" when in reality Wedo simply hasent been with the company long enough to know how much labor it really takes to run one of these restaurants. Until that time comes the Managers will be hourly employees and nothing more.