Johnny Rockets franchisee Richard Riva has opened the first JR’s Burger Grill in Phoenix. Less a totally new concept than a reworking of a full-service Johnny Rockets to a quick-service format, the restaurant is offering a limited menu with burgers priced at $2.99.
A Johnny Rockets spokesperson calls the concept “quick-service pricing with fast-casual quality.” In addition to build-your-own burgers (made with Johnny Rockets’ beef), the menu includes other sandwiches, fries, onions and shakes. “This is an experiment right now,” said the spokesperson. “Sometimes a mall location changes and is no longer conducive to full-service dining. [Riva] is one of our best operators; he knows his stuff. He wanted to try this approach. We’ll see how it does.” If it scores well with consumers, the JR’s Burger Grill concept could be available for other Johnny Rockets franchisees with units where a shift from full to limited service would make sense.
The chain has a history of working with franchisees on new design ideas. In May, Johnny Rockets unveiled its latest restaurant prototype, developed for franchisee Lloyd Sugarman by Morris Nathanson Design. Sugarman’s first unit with the new, more-cost-efficient design is a 2,700-square-foot Johnny Rockets that opened this summer at Nashville’s Opry Mills lifestyle center.
Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Johnny Rockets is hardly moving away from large-scale locations, however. In the past two months it has opened two of its largest restaurants. In June, it opened its biggest, a restaurant in the Dominican Republic with more than 6,000 square feet of space. Earlier this month it opened a 5,200-square-foot unit with seating for 198 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., that is its second-largest U.S. store (only its Knott’s Berry Farm location is larger).