Steak & Ale Makes a Brand Comeback

Steak & Ale Makes a Brand Comeback

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We’ve written before about “nostalgia” brands and those franchise businesses that have survived 50+ years.  Steak & Ale would seem to fit right in there.

Steakhouses are alive and well despite the surge in plant-based dining!

So we weren’t totally shocked that Steak & Ale, a business created in 1966, is priming (pun intended) for a comeback after declaring bankruptcy in 2018.

Known for affordable dining and rustic decor, the brand closed all 58 of its locations and has been relatively quiet since then.

But, in a major press announcement, the MULO (multi-location) business is MOOOOving into the new year with a bullish re-opening, leveraging the best of its old footprint.

In fact, they have been utilizing social media to prepare the market for the comeback. The salad bar, which was a favorite feature of the original concept, will make a return.

Potential franchise buyers are apparently clamoring for a piece of the pie (or should we say prime cuts), but the new owners are moving with caution and pacing their expansion.

What can we learn from this?

  • A bankruptcy filing doesn’t necessarily mean the death of a brand.
  • Sometimes, a “waiting period” for a relaunch is a good strategy because it gives the new buyers a chance to do their homework and figure out how to breathe new life into an old brand.
  • Social media can and should play a role in rebuilds and relaunches. Steak & Ale loyalists are busily chattering in a Facebook group about their excitement around its return.
  • Nostalgia marketing is having a moment. As our population is growing at both ends of the market (Gen Z and Boomers), intergenerational experiences are rising in popularity. Here are more examples of how brands are capitalizing on the “everything old is new again” vibe.

So, as we track those brands that are shuttering their doors this year (see our BUST series for coverage), remember that if cows and suds can make a comeback, anything is possible in the decades ahead.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.