GOLDEN, Colo. -- Boston Chicken here has hatched a series of new items at its Charlotte, N.C., test stores -- items that it intends to take nationwide.
The new products will be featured in the prototype Boston Market format the company expects to roll out to at least 75 locations in the next nine months, chain officials said.
As SN reported last week, all seven of the company's stores in Charlotte have already been retrofitted to replicate an initial test store here, where sales shot 30% above the average sales per unit in the Boston market system.
The prototype food programs at Boston Market include a made-to-order salad station dubbed Boston Gardens, and a grill. The items that form the backbone of Boston Market's new model menu are either cooked, assembled, or baked-off in the store.
The traditional Boston Market hot menu -- whole rotisserie chickens, chicken, ham, turkey and meatloaf dinners, and the company's repertoire of side dishes -- will stay on within the new format as it is rolled out. However, chilled prepacked items sourced from outside, which were a component of the test store, will not be rolled out, officials said.
The chilled prepacked entrees and sides, which were supplied to the first test store by Harry's Farmers Market, Roswell, Ga., have been eliminated.
"Our first priority has been to shape a prototype that could be rolled out nationally, utilizing the existing supply chain, and Harry's couldn't supply us everywhere," said Karen Rugen, senior vice president of communications for Boston Chicken.
However, the company will seek to put together a network of regional suppliers for fresh, prepacked entrees and sides, and when that network is on place, Harry's products could be put back into the mix, Rugen added.
Meanwhile, the salad station and the in-store grills are aimed at bolstering the variety offered, she said.
The salad station offers fresh field-green and fruit salads, as well as main-dish salads such as grilled chicken Caesar, chopped vegetables with grilled chicken or grilled salmon, as well as Oriental and Mexican chicken salad.
In addition to being assembled and dressed to order at a staffed station, each salad variety is also available packed up in a refrigerated self-service case. The packed items are made fresh each morning in-store.
The attention-getting salad station underscores the departure from the Boston Market traditional format. For that reason, it's not surprising that a television ad campaign the company launched in Charlotte zeroes in on it.
"The television ads in Charlotte are a version of our 'Food is Better at the Market -- Boston Market' ad. They start out with 'Now more than ever, food is better...' and they all have shots that 'romance' the food," Rugen said.
It's too early yet to analyze the effect of the television ad campaign -- or to determine the effect of the new format -- on sales at all seven of the company's retrofitted Boston Market stores in Charlotte, Rugen said. The last five just got the change-over two months ago.
If the new format is exported from Charlotte, Denver would be the first to get it, she added. Rugen also said the company will make its decision on going forward with the new format to additional market areas before the end of June.