Realigning Case Study

An acclaimed restaurant corporation hired Makowsky Group to assess and improve underperforming new concepts within their restaurant portfolio of brands. They required counsel and guidance to better understand their sub-optimal performance.


We were brought in to access and lead new concept development, as well as review overall company portfolio. Areas of focus were:

  1. Develop a culture of excellence
  2. Design for legendary customer service
  3. Build customer delight immediately 
  4. Attract, hire, retain, and inspire A-Players
  5. Design value-in and waste-out processes
  6. Easy-to-manage operations that function at best-in-class levels


  • Menu: The food was excellent, but the menu was too complicated. Customers were given over 200 options, along with the ability to modify any dish for their needs. All menu items were made from scratch daily. There were individual lunch and dinner menus, which was confusing to both customers and employees.
  • Drinks: Drink menu was performing on an okay, but not exceptional, level. A model where popular demographic areas were targeted was being used to introduce new concepts.
  • Interior/Exterior: The atmosphere was suffering from a lack of ambiance and energy.
  • Service & Employees: Low energy was noted among employees.
  • Web, Social Media, & Marketing: The online presence and marketing efforts felt too corporate and disconnected.


  • We began with a thorough analysis of the design, employees, processes, food quality, location, future sites, and the competition. We evaluated the current state and began to identify opportunities. 
  • We visited the restaurants from a guest perspective to intimately understand the experience and identify areas where it was anything less than extraordinary.
  • We also conducted a survey with the GMS, whose valuable input was used to guide the process.

We developed a plan of action to address the challenges:


  • After evaluating every menu item, the lunch and dinner menus were simplified and consolidated into a single menu, reducing confusion for both employees and customers.


  • After a thorough analysis, we identified alignment opportunities. We redirected the real estate plan for new concepts. Instead of targeting popular demographic areas for new concepts, we refocused on their core market for better brand alignment.
  • We created a plan to highlight the current selection of well-performing unique artisan and custom drinks. 


  • Implemented low-cost, simple retrofits including updated artwork and lighting to give the interior more energy.
  • Removed a frosted glass façade to showcase the exceptional kitchen and pizza oven, giving customers a clear view that increased engagement.
  • Opened up the kitchen window and made the pizza oven visible from the exterior, serving as a way to attract and draw in customers.

Employees & Management:

  • We encouraged local participation, empowering employees to openly give their input and ideas for change.

Web & Social Media:

  • We focused on implementing a decentralized online approach to emphasize local appeal, rather than corporate appeal, for new concepts.
  • Studied Yelp to understand inconsistencies and improvement areas from a customer perspective.


  • Encouraged participation and marketing on a local level, an approach that was directly aligned with the overall brand 
  • Fostered the idea of a local band night, creating buzz and awareness. We focused on implementing this in a controlled manner to protect and not diverge from the brand, but rather to give it more soul, character, and appeal. Sales increased nearly 50% on the first local band night.


  1. Increased customer loyalty with high satisfaction and repeat visits
  2. Faster service times with a lower number of complaints
  3. Raised employee satisfaction and reduced employee turnover
  4. Increased market share and same-store sales growth
  5. Boosted overall sales by 10%