Where have you been, Hoots? I have been patiently
waiting for some time now (2 years) for someone to make
some of the observations that you have made to date.
The bantor here is simply the difference between
Democrat and Republican, Ford and Chevy, likes and
dislikes. Those on this board who believe in this company
back the company. Those who have been burned beyond
their tolerance level have nothing good to say about
anything. Shortcuts? Bahh! the average customer that has
the money to spend at Luby's or one of their
competitors doesn't know what good food is supposed to taste
like, let alone know the difference between
'pre-prepped' or 'scratch'. Good point about the taste tests,
Hoots. Every problem that Luby's has is the same that
one or more of their competitors has had at some
point in recent years. For all of you 'armchair
Quarterbacks' on this board, change the channel! You're bound
to find a game more to your liking! (For those
Trekkies, you'll have to settle for re-runs.) I drive a
Chevy and hold more closely to the Republican views
than Democrats. However, I don't ram it down someone
else's throats just to make myself feel
Luby's has problems. On this point we all can concur.
Unfortunately, none of us can solve all of them. The horse owner
cannot ride the horse. The horse owner cannot ride the
jockey, either. (How many know of a jockey that owns his
own horse?) My last comment is this. The public will,
as they have in the past, decide who stays in
business and who does not buy the spending of their money.
I hope that we have not turned away potential
customers from Luby's by our pointing the finger,
misquotes, one-ups-man-ship and meaningless babble. EOM
Don't give an inch, Rockhead. I have resisted the
shortcuts every step of the way and I'm still doing it.
It's a losing battle, but by holding on to every scrap
of traditional cooking we maintain a place at the
forward edge of quality. It's also good for production
people to know that what they do is recognized and
There is a similar leadership attitude that
applies to discharging people: We can choose to use our
power to fire people as a maul, threatening
subordinates into submission, or instead give the more
sympathetic impression that terminating someone is a last
resort and something that we hate doing as the most
painful duty of management (which it is). The results are
the same for the person who gets fired, but the
impact upon the people who remain is quite
Mr.Strategy, I'm sorry to have misled you. I have no idea what
Luby's is doing because I have never been in a Luby's
Cafeteria and have no connection with the company. I work
for Piccadilly and visit the board because it is more
lively than the Yahoo board for Piccadilly. Also, we are
in the same line of work and I have heard nothing
but good things about Luby's over the years.
messages remind me of the owner of a horse talking down to
a jockey who can't get the animal to do as the
owner wants. Those of us who feed the family as well as
the public are not as carelessly and willfully stupid
as you might imagine. Your condescension is pretty
transparent. I invite you to visit the PIC board and read my
Post #389; I don't care to repeat it here.
I am not
sure what constitutes "authoritative data" but I will
always remember a blind tasting that compared processed
turkey with the product butchered and cooked the old
fashioned way. I was grieved to learn that by a margin of
three to one (or five to one, depending on who was
doing the test) the public preferred the processed
stuff over what we had been doing the hard way! It was
like children choosing oleo over butter.
that running a cafeteria were as mechanical and
controlable as your two cut and dried "options" infer, but
I'm afraid it's not that straightforward.
Thanks for your edifying post, Hoots.
be sure I understand: you are telling us that LUB
has switched from "fresh to canned instant mashed
potatoes" and "from hand-breaded to factory-made fried
1.) NObody noticed, and
Quantitatively per item sales of those items were NOT AT ALL
Please also tell us whether this is just a "feel" or is
based on authoritative data -- which is what I was
(For instance in two "anecdotal conversations" I have
had with unit managers I have been told that fried
okra sales are DRASTICALLY DOWN since the switch to
Your points about labor intensive
preparation, higher wages, lower unemployment, etc., are well
taken. OBVIOUSLY these factors provoke a choice by LUB
1.) Cut corners and lower
quality, increase margin EVERY way possible.
2.) Improve operational efficiency (withOUT diluting
quality) and increase demand.
Option Two is darned
hard work and requires great SKILL. Option One is
relatively easy and helps profits quickly (IF you don't
consider long-term asset erosion.)
Since we pay
them MILLIONS, which direction are we shareholders
entitled to expect?
It is increasingly obvious
which direction we ARE getting. Our decreasing sales in
boom times, eroding market share and pitiful stock
price reflect it.
In the end no matter what way you slice it, dice
it, or prep it what you said is true. It
constant battle to overcome the daily pressures that
affect your bottom line without affecting sales growth.
Sorry I still am passionate about what I stick in my
craw, that's why pre-made is so hard to swallow.
As someone who has been reared to love and take
pride in made from scratch products I have had to come
to terms in the last few years with some
uncomfortable realities. First, food technology is much better
than it once was. I switched from fresh to canned
instant mashed potatoes, from hand-breaded to
factory-made fried okra, from scratch to ready-made bulk
mayonnaise, from butchered to processed turkey, (and the list
could continue) and I am sorry to report that nobody
noticed and sales were not affected.
turned the beverage line around and under the direction
of Coca Cola converted to self-serve and we all
looked at each other and said "Why did this take us so
long?" How much margin did we have on pre-iced water in
breakable glasses for all those years?]
wages marching ever upward, the luxury of cooking from
scratch is going to have to be reserved for higher price
points than customers associate with cafeterias. I takes
no deep thinking to see the connection between wages
and prices, between skill levels and wages, and
between low unemployment and skill levels. The federal
minimum wage is sure to go up in the next year and the
impact on labor intensive service businesses like ours
is as predictable as the sunrise.
that. Discussions about convenience foods are moot. The
option is disappearing unless somebody can figure out a
way to pursuade lots of the public to wait willingly
in lines to eat what we serve in a crowded dining
room and pay more for the experience than they have in
the past...a LOT more.
Something similar crossed my mind. When we heard
that the local old-style Luby's was to be remodeled
with booths, my wife (early 50's) didn't like the
idea. Not from a noise standpoint, but she prefers a
table near the window and doesn't care for booths. So
if most of the window space is switched to booths,
it'll be a negative for her. If Luby's spends a lot of
money remodelling all the locations, they may not
improve their revenue as much as they hope. None of the
new-style Luby's have been open more than 18 months (one of
Luby's statistics is same-store sales of locations open
over 18 months), so they can't really be sure of the
long term effect of remodelling.
windows are definitely a plus. And new smaller Luby's in
medium-sized towns will be too. But I hope Luby's isn't going
full blast with a cookie-cutter approach to
The old-style Austin Luby's I mentioned in a prior
posting had had a drive-thru window installed but the
inside wasn't changed, at least not yet.
another trivial note, not all Luby's charge $1.09 for
iced tea, at least one was $0.99 two weeks ago. Maybe
it was a moving special.