NEW YORK (Nov. 10) - Golden Corral plans to sustain its growth by expanding beyond its current geographic markets and continuing to focus on advertising and promotional activities, including sponsoring next year's NASCAR Nextel Cup race, officials said during a recent company meeting here. The country's No. 1 grill buffet chain also is developing a new restaurant prototype to showcase more prominently its varied food offerings, executives revealed during the 2003 Golden Corral Franchise Convention. At the gathering Ted Fowler, president and chief executive of the more than 470-unit, Raleigh, N.C.-based chain, stressed the importance of responding to the continually evolving preferences of customers. "During the next year we will develop our first model of a new prototype facility that will take us to a new level," Fowler told franchisees. The new model will display ethnic foods, such as Mexican, Asian and Italian, more prominently than at Golden Corral's current model, which has the offerings clustered together. "The action stations of display cooking [will] take the Golden Corral of today and add to it new, exciting ethnic-theme food offerings merchandised in an exciting way," Fowler said. "We will raise the decor and ambience levels in our facilities." Golden Corral also plans to launch a series of new television advertisements with the theme "Everybody deserves a good meal," in 40 markets across the country. Next year's campaign, like this year's, will be heavily product focused. In addition, the company is the title sponsor of the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 14, 2004. The race, which was formerly the Winston Cup race, will be called the Golden Corral 500 and will be carried on Fox Television.
"Our plan for the coming year will be to leverage that sponsorship as much as we can. 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.