Newly-Hired Executives Bring Fresh Ideas to Johnny Rockets

The Houston

Image courtesy Johnny Rockets Group

Last week, Johnny Rockets appointed a new President & CEO, as well as a new SVP of Marketing.  Within that time, the two new executives have announced three new location concepts for the franchise, plus two menu additions.

New York Times reports that John Fuller and Tim Hackbardt, respectively, both attended Thursday’s opening of the two-story Johnny Rockets Sports Lounge in New York City.  In an official news release, the company describes the location as “a prototype” of the chain’s “newest concept.”  Johnny Rockets Sports Lounge trades in the restaurant’s famous 1950’s diner theme and replaces it with a modern, sports bar look.  The menu remains the same, however, focusing on American standards like hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches (albeit with new twists, like milkshake-and-mixed-drink hybrids).

In his short tenure, Fuller has also unveiled plans for expansion, including Johnny Rockets FAST!, which promises the same Johnny Rockets quality and overall atmosphere, but in a smaller space.  QSR Magazine quotes the president and CEO of Johnny Rockets Group on the concept: “we still want to have as many traditional locations as we can as well, [but Johnny Rockets FAST!] allows people who can’t find the square footage [for a traditional location]…something that would fit for them.”  The article claims that the FAST! concept involves a retail space about half the size of a normal Johnny Rockets, a streamlined menu, and a quick-service operating model (no dining room, no servers).

The chain’s third new concept takes the franchise on the road.  The Times reports that the first Johnny Rockets mobile kitchen has been spotted at FedEx Field in Maryland.  QSR reports that more food trucks will soon be available to franchisees seeking to expand their business.

Hackbardt, who the company says will focus on “consumer research, new media, and product development,” most likely had a hand in the chain’s other recent development — the permanent addition of the Houston hamburger and the Oreo Peppermint Shake to the Johnny Rockets menu.  The former, originally a limited-time offer, adds jalapeño peppers, pepper jack cheese, and a spicy sauce to the restaurant’s trademark entreé, the Rocket Single.  The Oreo Peppermint Shake, a milkshake consisting of its namesake flavors and hand-dipped vanilla ice cream, becomes the twentieth milkshake variety available at Johnny Rockets and has been named the franchise’s Shake of the Month.

Johnny Rockets currently operates nearly 300 locations worldwide.  The chain hopes to open up to 40 U.S. locations in 2010 and is actively seeking new franchisees.

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