A recent visit with Bob Evans (BOBE) management gives us confidence that the company has created a new trend line for growth and earnings. As a paradigm changing company in restaurants they have become a thought leader with a faster entry than other restaurants in the fast casual market. Unlike others starting new concepts, BOBE had the foresight to design take out and bakery into the new store concept in effect creating a fast casual concept while substantially increasing their in house dining experience. The concepts have been so successful and improved same store sales that they have accelerated all stores to be completed in their refresh($225,000 per store) in the next 12 months. Then new store builds will accelerate $2-2.5 mil per store).

In the food segment regional expansion with the newly market leading side dishes has increased velocity of sales for customers. By concentrating on the meat section and breakfast day part in frozen foods the focus has moved away from a primary emphasis on sausage to create double digit growth in their food business. Plant expansion and the vertical integration acquisition of Kettle Creations gave both capacity and margin expansion opportunity. New product introductions into the meat cases of more side dishes in expanding regions give them both a proprietary and somewhat protectable market position. Look for more pasta and rice dishes and addition to the breakfast mix in the freezer case(including sausage).

At multiple roundtables we have hosted the fast casual model has been identified with improving penetration and market share. The Bob Evans off premise focus and the home meal replacement are the focus of the new carry out, bakery and catering offerings. This further leverages the real estate of restaurants like few others in the industry can follow. Day parts are almost even at the restaurants giving them unique opportunities with virtually any new menu items. Combined with a fast growing and distinct food product space Bob Evans is a unique paradigm offering in the packaged food/restaurant space.