GOLDEN, Colo. -- Boston Market expects sales of meals for the holidays -- from Thanksgiving week through Super Bowl Sunday -- to rise as much as 80% over the same period last year.
To fulfill that expectation, the retail food-service operator has introduced bundled holiday meals, added whole turkey breasts to its holiday menu and is advertising aggressively on television, according to Karen Rugen, vice president of communications at Boston Chicken the company that franchises and operates Boston Market stores.
"Adding apple pies has helped, too. That rounds out the menu," she told SN.
Rugen said media focus of late on the concept of home-meal replacement is also expected to drum up business.
"There wasn't a consumer media publication around here this year that didn't want to talk about fully prepared holiday dinners," she added. "That helps us. We were mentioned in a New York Times article on the best places to get a fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner."
Boston Market's success with ham dinners chainwide last holiday season, plus the success of turkey breast dinners tested in four markets last year, gave the company the impetus to go after more holiday business, Rugen said.
Hams and half-hams and a variety of 32-ounce "banquet-sized" side dishes were introduced last year prior to Thanksgiving. The products were given a category of their own, designated as Boston Hearth Specialty Foods.
"Sales of Boston Hearth Specialty Foods were way above our projections last year, and so were sales of Thanksgiving dinners this year," Rugen said. She declined to reveal sales figures or percentages.
Three holiday meal packages were introduced this year: The Boston Hearth Classic Banquet, which services 10 to 12; the Boston Hearth Variety Banquet, for 14 to 18; and the Boston Hearth Grand Banquet, serving 20 to 24.
Prices vary by location, Rugen said, but they start at about $49.99 for the Boston Hearth Classic and $89.99 for the Boston Hearth Grand Banquet.
For a dinner for 10 to 12 people, customers can choose between half a ham or two turkey breasts, and add four banquet-sized side dishes and 12 pieces of corn bread. That's based on a half-pound of entree per person, a Boston Market source said.
The turkey breasts were rolled out this year based on their success in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida test markets last year, just as hams were added chainwide last holiday season after a successful test in selected markets at Easter 1995, said Rugen.
While the banquet-sized sides were available last year, they were not bundled with the hams and half hams in meal packages. The sides retail for $4.99 or $5.99, depending on the market, she noted.
The 32-ounce sides are packed in dual-ovenable containers at store level and chilled prior to the scheduled pick-up time for holiday dinners, according to a Boston Market source.
"We've found that the majority of holiday dinners are ordered five to 10 days prior to pick-up," Rugen added.