Corner Bakery Cafe: Continues Holistic Brand Revitalization

Dallas / TX. (sscp) When SSCP, a family-owned, award-winning restaurant leader, acquired Corner Bakery Cafe last June, its goal was to stabilize the brand and lay a strong foundation that would drive growth of the 100+ unit chain in 2024 and beyond, as it has demonstrated with successful history across its portfolio of restaurants. Less than six months later, Corner Bakery Cafe’s comprehensive brand revitalization efforts are well underway, and the results are already clear – as evidenced by positive sales growth, steady employee retention and improved guest experience.

The company’s positive momentum resulted in a USD 200,000 increase in system Average Unit Volume across its cafes in the last six months alone. This trajectory is expected to continue accelerating throughout 2024 with growth led by catering sales and much improved counter sales.

To illustrate its renewed commitment to fostering a strong people-first culture, Corner Bakery Cafe deployed a variety of new initiatives, including improved training programs (back to basics), prioritization of providing robust career opportunities, recognition programs and new employee incentives – which have already played a role in regaining trust and re-energizing the team.

«Our plan from Day One was to invest back into the business in virtually every area, from developing and providing growth opportunities to our people to ensuring that our cafes are refreshed and inviting to our guests,» said SSCP President and Corner Bakery Cafe CEO Chris Dharod. «We see so much potential for the Corner Bakery Cafe brand, and we’re thrilled that our efforts are already paying dividends and have laid a strong foundation for growth in the year ahead.»

Central to Corner Bakery Cafe’s revitalization efforts was stacking the brand’s executive suite with a team of industry leaders to guide its evolution. Among these heavy hitters are two Corner Bakery Cafe veterans: COO Erin Hasselgren and VP of Development Bob Hartmann who returned to leadership roles, bringing back to the brand their collective 27 years of experience. Other key members of this all-star team include industry marketing expert, Melanie Barichivich, who is the company’s Head of Marketing, and Glenn Hurley, Procurement Consultant. In a matter of months, Barichivich completely overhauled Corner Bakery Cafe’s marketing strategy, resulting in substantial lifts in brand awareness, affinity, and sales, while Hurley is already making strides in optimizing Corner Bakery Cafe’s supply chain and driving profitability.

«I had the privilege of helping drive our growth over the course of nearly two decades, and I am honored to rejoin the Corner Bakery Cafe family alongside some of the industry’s best and brightest as we propel the brand to new heights in the years ahead,» said Hasselgren. «Fueled by our people-first culture, commitment to empowering employees, passion for providing unmatched guest experiences and innovation-forward growth strategy, I believe we are better positioned for rapid success than at any time in our 33-year history. Corner Bakery Cafes ‘glory days’ are yet to come.»

As part of its overarching turnaround strategy, Corner Bakery Cafe has teamed up with a variety of new partners to optimize its day-to-day operations and community engagement. The company carefully vetted potential vendors, identified the top performers in each of their respective categories and enlisted their support to ensure maximum success throughout the organization’s current and future evolution – fueling its aggressive growth trajectory. Among those new partners are:

  • Qualtrics: Reinforcing its service-first mission, Corner Bakery Cafe selected XM technology provider Qualtrics to measure and improve employee and customer experience across all touchpoints. The software provides visibility into every customer interaction and experience via survey intercepts both in-cafe and online, ensuring the voices of its customers and team members are heard and followed by action to provide best-in-class service and experiences. Corner Bakery Cafe launched Qualtrics’ solution on December 11, 2023, at its 66 corporate cafes and based on the platform’s performance throughout testing and initial deployment, plans to roll out the technology across its franchise system in Q1 of 2024.
  • Stingray/Bite: Because technology will play a critical role in the future of the Corner Bakery Cafe brand, the company is partnering with both Stingray Business and Bite to test new kiosk ordering technology. As part of the company’s efforts to improve the guest experience, Corner Bakery Cafe is planning to utilize kiosks in a pilot program to be tested at two Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas locations in the first quarter of 2024. The goal is to make in-cafe ordering quick, efficient, and frictionless, while also creating new revenue opportunities through suggestive selling and reducing labor costs.
  • Champion: To drive brand awareness and customer engagement, Corner Bakery Cafe enlisted the support of Champion – one of the most recognized integrated marketing agencies in the restaurant industry. The Champion team developed and is currently deploying a brand awareness program to ignite Corner Bakery Cafe’s social and digital presence. This new holistic marketing strategy focuses on re-engaging current fans, bolstering awareness among future guests and elevating brand affinity to propel in-store, online and catering sales.

Committed to innovation and excellence, Corner Bakery Cafe is embarking on an ambitious journey to enhance its dining experience, with a comprehensive plan to remodel most of its corporate Cafes in the coming months. Simultaneously, the brand is diligently developing a prototype to set the stage for future corporate and franchise growth. As part of this forward-looking strategy, Corner Bakery Cafe is set to open five to seven new Cafes in 2024 – a prelude to an accelerated growth trajectory beyond the current year, ensuring that guests can anticipate an unparalleled and dynamic dining atmosphere.

Corner Bakery Cafe’s new collaborative partnerships demonstrate how the brand is jumping into 2024 full steam ahead, fueled by continuous innovation, while staying true to its service-first mission and dedication to unmatched experiences. From adopting new technology to optimizing guest service to bringing back the brand’s original logo, Corner Bakery Cafe is committed to returning to its roots and restoring the brand to its former glory is evident.

In the coming year, the company will continue to improve guest satisfaction, increase repeat visits, and drive brand loyalty, alongside growth in brand awareness across social, digital and loyalty channels. These efforts and many more are helping establish Corner Bakery Cafe as a legacy brand built for long-term success.