Steak n Shake unveils new restaurant prototype

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NEW YORK—The company now known as Biglari Holdings Inc. on Thursday unveiled a new prototype for future Steak n Shake restaurants.

The restaurants will feature a roofline that references the classic Steak n Shake folding hat, along with an open interior featuring a steakburger grill and milkshake stations that are more visible to customers.

CEO Sardar Biglari said the goal is to open about 1,500 new franchise locations in the United States in the coming years. He detailed the plans at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City shortly after shareholders approved a change to the company's name. About 95 percent of shareholders supported calling the restaurant chain's parent company Biglari Holdings instead of Steak n Shake Co.

The shares now are trading under a new ticker symbol, BH, in part to avoid confusion between the chain, Steak n Shake Operations Inc., and the parent, which owns a diverse pool of investments. Biglari quickly dispatched with the vote and confirmation of a new term for the company's five incumbent board members, then took questions from investors and analysts for more than five hours.

Biglari said he couldn't envision a scenario in which he would sell the Steak n Shake restaurant chain, which he described as a key strategic business for Biglari Holdings. He said the Steak n Shake division will maintain a high-profile presence in Indianapolis.

"We're not going to be selling that subsidiary no matter what we would get for it," he said.

He said the company already has inked deals for new franchise Steak n Shake locations in Denver; Las Vegas; Richmond, Va.; and Rome, Ga.; and leaders are working on plans for a series of new company-owned stores in San Antonio, where Biglari Holdings has its headquarters. The company plans to use the locations it opens in San Antonio to sell potential new franchisees.

The 3,200-square-foot prototype will cost about $1.5 million to build, down from the existing 4,200-square-foot model, which costs $2.2 million. The restaurants still will seat about 100 people. Dining areas will be visible from outside thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass, while lifesize classic photos showing Steak n Shake's history will adorn the rest of the structures.

With the old-format stores, about 60 percent of the square footage was in the back of the house, including a large office and an employee lounge with lockers. The new versions strip out those amenities.

Those in attendance at the annual meeting were shown renderings and an animation of the new prototype, but the company declined to provide IBJ a digital copy of the materials. The newspaper purchased a single share of the company to ensure access to the meeting.

One of those asking questions of Biglari was Matt Prescott of the Humane Society of the United States, which has bought shares in several public restaurant companies in an attempt to influence food practices.

Prescott called on Steak n Shake to use at least some cage-free eggs, pointing to several similar chains, including Burger King, IHOP, Panera Bread and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, that have begun using cage-free eggs.

Biglari said he appreciates the concern but is no expert "because our breakfast business is so damn low."

"Ultimately the market will drive our decision, not a particular organization or individual," he said.

Steak n Shake shares closed Thursday at $402.05 each, up more than $9 for the day.


  • New Restaurant
    I have heard rumors that a new Steak and Shake restaurant will come to Weaverville. NC. Is this true?
  • new locations
    I grew up in St. Louis and now live in Roanoke,Virginia. It was announced months ago that we were getting a Steak n Shake here by the end of 2010. What happened? Are we still getting one and when?
  • Bad business practices
    As a currently employee of SnS (and I'm no bus boy). I'll say this. Its hard to provide High guest service when your all beat up. Long countless hrs with out pay. And when I say long, I mean {18 to 24hrs} straight work days. No breaks and no over time pay. Perhaps, if this company wants to focus on guest service, it should start with the help first. (Before it starts making fantasy buildings). But I guess all that free labor isn't shown in the profit margins.
  • Go back to better times
    I worked during the 70's too for SnS. In say downsize the menu, get back to service being a priority, do away with the offices and lounges for employees (as a manager I did my reports upfront where I could see what was happening), learn to set the plates and glasses where the logo is proudly displayed and make it a fun place to work. Whether it's Gus belt, bob Cronin or Biglari at the helm it's a great company but it needs to look back at what made it stand out.
  • New Locations
    Do you have plans for a new location in the Hammond/Whiting Indiana area. It would do well in this area. It would actually do fantastic. Somewhere close to the Horseshoe Casino would be great.
  • why change
    Why change the look and design, i know that if Gus Belt's was still alive he would disaprove of all this i think you all should leave well enough alone and let business boom,
  • SnS Fredericksburg
    This location will be opening in early December.
  • Steak & Shake Grand Opening.....The Movie
    And now..........following in the foot tracks of "Moby Dick", The Good, the Bad, and the Nauseating, "Yeti My A**" I present "Steak & Shake, the Grand Opening" This movie is not rated. There were no ratings that low:

  • New Location
    My wife and I practically grew up with Stean N Shake out in Bloomington, IL. We always wished some of the restaurants would open out here in VA. Now one is being constructed on Rt. 1, Fredericksburg, VA. Where can I learn more about it?
  • A Positive For Our City
    Steak N Shake is a popular place. It is well located, clean inside and out, serves great hamburgers and shakes. The fries could be improved for better taste and to stay hot longer. The management and service is good also.
  • sardar
    How many CEO's have you ever heard of that frequent the stores at all times of the day. He has put alot of effort and research into the company...many are complaining but if ur stock went from 3.oo a share to over 400.00 in 18 months ...I doubt you would be complaining at all...stocks don't rise from un-happy customers...think about it.
  • Good Old SnS
    I worked as a curb hop for SnS back in the mid 70's, had a lot of fun, met my wife there, enjoyed my co-workers very much. We even had profit sharing accounts. Steakburger was 69c, and fries were 39c...Robert P. Cronin was the boss then...7960, 4105, 7690..all good numbers.
  • call western sizzlin
    We've had the pleasure of being on the giving end to biglari holdings for 3 years, and there's not much left - No company president (no direction), no purchasing dept, on operations dept, almost no support for operations - try that on for a "franchise". What does the future hold??
  • If you were at the meeting
    If you were at the meeting, you'd know that Steak N Shake wouldn't even EXIST if Biglari hadn't taken it over. When he acquired it, the company was bleeding out over 100 grand a day due to mismanagement and poor planning. He turned it around and the company's profits have soared.
    I have been impressed with every single Steak N Shake I have attended.

    And for those of you who are lamenting the shape of your Steak N Shake, it will likely improve soon. Biglari has a process of reviewing managers and district managers, etc. When he interviews them, he thinks to himself, "Is this the person I'd trust all my money to?" And if the answer is no, then that's it. So based on what he was saying, expect a lot of change.

    You shouldn't knock the importance of the prototype. It will revolutionize the eating experience at a location. It is so obvious that the prototype clearly was planned out with so many things in mind - the customer, maximizing how efficiency, and saving money.

    Biglari is ALL about the customer.
    Name one other fast food chain that would make fresh Guacamole on site. Biglari said "Sure we could have had guacamole mix sent to all the stores. But instead we chose fresh avacados, tomatoes, and cilantro..."

    People knock Biglari and they don't have a clue what he is really like. He is so passionate about what he does. He is so dedicated to the customer. He loves what he does. And he is ridiculously good at it.

    This was a good article, thank you for writing it.

    But as for most of the comments, trust me, if you were there at the meeting - where Biglari spent almost 5 straight hours answering every single question he was asked - you'd see him in an ENTIRELY different light.

    He has a pretty good sense of humor too.

    • Something I noticed when waiting...
      As I'm posting this, I decided I'd point out which site we frequent - it's a mile down the street. [1]

      When in line to hit the window, it reminded me of "Dave" when the Prez is trying to trim the budget with a chainsaw. There's a figure named which had a purpose of "making people feel good about the cars they've already purchased".

      As I approach the window, there are three large signboards, extolling the virtues of the food you're in line to pick it up. Do I care what Roger Ebert said about taking the president out for dinner and routing the troop to S&S.

      Granted, the placards might seem well-placed - in an effort to use feng shui - and putting that information is a distraction so people aren't reading them to see if there's anything new, ...

      [1]Whomever wrote the S&S code to find sites within a given address needs to meet someone out back, grab a switch, and hurt them until ___ hurts.

      If I were to produce that type of quality, I'd be out of business. I wouldn't do it for my self, and certainly not for my clients.
    • End-User
      Very Sad is absolutely correct Steak-N-Shake is going to go down the tubes if they don't do something about the real problems, service, quality & cleanliness. You can build all the new buildings you want but if you don't utilize existing building and LEED certifications then why even bother wasting your time. It is so so so said that corporate america doesn't have a clue as to what is wrong and how to go about fixing it. Look in the past as to what made Steak-N-Shake successful and build upon that. Good Luck as you will need it!
    • Ok
      Jacob, I can see your point, but my point still stands. The problem is with quality of service and cleanliness. A new facade will not fix those issues and the chain will continue to decline if they are not corrected. As usual, corporations try to fix the real issues with a coat of paint, and ignores the real problems.

      Also, I don't feel that Biglar bought the chain to save it, he bought it as a way to grow his other businesses, now he is putting on the show of trying to save it, but in the end, it will go the way of the dodo. First he begins taking what money is left in the chain and uses it to further his interests (that are not Steak n Shake related), then he changes the name, so it doesn't look like the real plan is to suck the chain dry. Now he is changing the whole look and feel. It wont be long and the chain will be where it was headed anyway, so I guess I should just shut up and mourn the loss of a local chain.
    • Bitter
      It seems from the comments here that the people of Indianapolis are quite bitter about SNS' new CEO and some changes that were made. Sadly, they don't realize that, if not for Mr. Biglari, the SNS as we all knew it would likely have gone the way of the dodo bird. They, obviously, aren't shareholders either. If they were, they'd have little to complain about.
      • So Very Sad
        I was once a very big fan of Steak n Shake. I was very sad to see that some corporation was buying the chain, now I am even more sad to see them change it. I agree that some changes need to be made, but the problem with Steak n Shake is not the building. The problem is with the quality of Service and the cleanliness of the store. If the could fix those things, the chain would be great as it stands.
      • What was unveiled?
        Based on this article, a better headline might have been "Steak n Shake CEO names company after self, presents vague outlines for SnS future." Unless there's more detail elsewhere, there was no prototype unveiled. That involves, you know, unveiling a prototype.
      • More blight
        Great. Another design blight on the landscape. Why doesn't someone create an "office park" model for fast food and use some of the empty space we ALREADY have?
      • More Savings
        In another cost cutting move, new restaurants will be fitted with fryers that utilize Biglari's recycled hair oil. "Everyone needs to do their part," Biglari was quited as saying. "Besides, I buy this stuff by the tanker, so there's always plenty to bo around."

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