This MULO Diner Chain is Roaring Street Fight

BOOM: This MULO Diner Chain is Roaring

Share this:

The diner as a concept seems to be timeless.  Back in 1913, the first stationary diner was established and ultimately grew to 6,000 privately owned locations nationally. That’s a giant MULO (multi-location) venture!

Fast forward to today.

Although foodies have a wide range of options for where to eat — from single-unit locations to specific ethnic cuisine establishments to whopping fast-food chains, the diner lives on.

The Black Bear Diner is alive and well and plans to grow from a “Mama Bear” to 800 locations. 

Running a diner can be tough because the concept relies on a wide range of food options. But we’ve seen other diner brands survive and thrive because of brand familiarity, consistent quality, and convenient locations and parking.

Black Bear is a franchised business, but the keys to success seem to be:

  1. An understanding of the most profitable day parts and staffing and menu items that support what the data is telling management. Breakfast is served all day.
  2. Commitment to hospitality, which is critical in the food industry these days, even as automation reduces cost and increases efficiencies.
  3. A “right-sized” footprint, which ensures that rent and labor costs are kept under control.
  4. A unique and easily recognizable brand. After all, how often does one see bear-themed totem poles around their town? Immediate identification drives repeat business among loyal diners.
  5. Philanthropic partnerships. Even a bear needs a soul. The brand even has a commitment to animals, which is consistent with their branding (see #3).
  6. Loyalty programs and gift cards, which seem to be part of many MULO restaurant models these days.
  7. A visually appealing and whimsical Instagram, which seems to be table stakes these days.  But the bear theming and pix of food make it especially enticing.

Although Black Bear has not yet made the list of most recognized MULO chains, the brand is alive and thriving in the markets it serves.

And, like a much-snuggled teddy bear, it lives on in the hearts of the people who embrace it.

Save the date: For more insights into MULO success stories, put November 7th on your calendar for Street Fight LIVE 2024 in Chicago.

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.
Previous Post

The Franchise of the Future

Next Post

When Gen AI Erodes Trust, Brands Take the Fall