We will be doing promotional programs, in-store programs and crew incentive programs all built around the race," said Bob McDevitt, senior vice president of marketing and franchise operations.
Meanwhile, Golden Corral plans to continue growing its franchise system.
"In this year's strategic planning process . . . [one] key issue is . . . [to] continue to attract food operators to our system to help us fill in markets with development potential and . . . to establish a Golden Corral presence in new undeveloped markets," Fowler declared.
Golden Corral expects to end the 2003 fiscal year with 122 company-owned restaurants and 351 franchised units in its system. Total sales in franchised units are expected to be about $900 million, or 71 percent of the projected 2003 systemwide sales of more than $1.25 billion.
"Systemwide sales will be around $100 million higher than [those of] 2002, or a gain of about 8 percent," said Larry Tate, the company's senior vice president of franchising.
Tate told his audience that the company has 184 new franchise markets under area development agreements for expansion over the next five years. He said the new units are expected to add $652 million to systemwide sales.
New markets are slated to be developed in Detroit, Chicago, South Florida, Georgia and California.
Golden Corral currently builds restaurants in three different sizes. Its 11,700-square-foot model seats 468 customers. The chain's medium-size, 10,300-square-foot prototype has seating for 384 people, and its 7,800-square-foot unit seats 282.
Tate said profit, as measured by cash flow from operations, for the largest units is averaging 18.4 percent of sales, and the other two models generate cash flow of 15.7 percent of sales. That group includes some very old units.
New Golden Corral units are much more profitable. The company said annualized sales for a typical new Golden Corral restaurant in 2002 exceeded $3 million, and net operating income exceeded 21 percent.
The company still has 110 "standard" units built in small towns between 1973 and 1988 that are 5,000 square feet and seat 275 patrons. Those units have salad bars, but not buffets.
"Standard units that have been remodeled show a 10.1-percent improvement in sales trend before and after, and remodele