Q07 Q07 Q07
Carrols Restaurant Group: Feeding a Hungry Public
Syracuse, New York-based Carrols Restaurant Group is one of the largest restaurant companies in the nation. With more than 16,000 employees and annual sales of about $750 million, the company owns, operates, and franchises three distinct restaurant concepts across 16 states:
• Burger King. Carrols operates 312 Burger King restaurants as a franchise in Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Vermont. They employ more than 10,000 people.
• Pollo Tropical. This regional "quick-serve" restaurant chain features fresh, grilled chicken prepared with a special blend of spices and without oil or breading. The menu emphasizes dishes made from scratch using fresh, nutritious ingredients with a strongly Caribbean flavor. Restaurants include free table service, a children's menu, and a complimentary salsa bar. Pollo Tropical began operations in 1988 in Miami. Today, more than 2,700 employees work in the more than 90 company-owned Pollo Tropical stores in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, and New York. Carrols has opened franchised locations at Florida colleges and universities and has expanded its reach to the Caribbean and South America. Currently, about 30 Pollo Tropical franchises operate in the Bahamas, Ecuador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, with plans for franchises under way in Panama.
• Taco Cabana. Another company-owned brand, Taco Cabana is a regional quick-serve chain that offers such Tex-Mex fare as homemade tortillas, salsa, and grilled fajitas. The restaurant began as a taco stand in San Antonio in 1978. Today, it comprises more than 150 restaurants with more than 4,000 employees in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Carrols positions Taco Cabana as an alternative to traditional Mexican restaurants or fast-food taco joints, with a festive Mexican theme, indoor and patio dining, and generous portions.
The Carrols Restaurant Group was established in 1960 as Carrols Systems, a business division of a midwestern company. Under the arrangement, division leader Herbert N. Slotnick was licensed to operate Carrols Drive-In Restaurants in New York. The drive-in chain grew up at a time when the fast-food sector was gaining in popularity, and under Slotnick's leadership, Carrols expanded and prospered, building awareness and capturing significant share in the New York fast-food market. In 1975, the company entered into a franchise agreement with Burger King, simultaneously converting many of its Carrols locations and phasing out others. Carrols bought Pollo Tropical in 1998 and Taco Cabana in 2000. The company is known for community outreach. Under its "Dollars for Doers" program, employees who actively volunteer for a charitable organization can request a company contribution to the charity (up to two gifts of $250 each per year). The company also encourages its workforce to register with the National Marrow Donor Program, covering the cost of the medical test for employees.
Today, many restaurants offering Mexican or Caribbean fare appeal to a predominantly Hispanic audience. Two of the Carrols holdings-Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana-feature those types of cuisines. Since Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority segment in the United States, would you concentrate your marketing efforts on this segment or work to expand the market for Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana?