If you"re choose a most people, it"s probably been a while because you"ve set foot in a Boston Market, the chain that quick organization comfort food restaurants that when promised to free you indigenous the impeded of evening family meal prep. The chain has actually shrunk by nearly 60 percent since its heyday in the early "90s, once there were over 1,100 places spread across mini malls and also shopping plazas nationwide.

You are watching: How many boston markets are there


While the chain may have actually fallen the end of fashion in current years, it was when the darling of wall Street, offering investors insane returns on one IPO built on the backs of numerous herbed rotisserie chickens. Boston market was poised to end up being the next major small chain success story, authorized the ranking of restaurants like Chipotle and also Panera Bread. In less than a decade, that dream would explode right into a million pieces, leaving the chain dealing with bankruptcy, close up door stores, and trying to put the pieces earlier together. What walk wrong, and what sent out this once-prominent chain scurrying right into bankruptcy court? Let"s take a look.


*
Getty Images
Boston sector attracted a the majority of attention in the 1990s, thanks in part to its unusually aggressive growth strategy. ~ a effective IPO in the at an early stage "90s (more top top this later), the company rolled end the cash raised in the early public stock offering to promptly scale up the variety of locations to around 1,200. Boston sector would loan the money to franchisees, that would in turn pay the firm a franchise fee for each brand-new store, royalties on food sales, and also interest on the loans.


Boston market reported this revenue as pure profit, leave franchisees to bear the load of classic restaurant startup costs, which subsequently drove the stock even higher, enabling the chain to open up even an ext stores. Problems began to happen when every one of these separation, personal, instance stores had to challenge the missteps typical in many businesses; overpaying for product, discounting food selection items excessively, or overpaying for genuine estate. Ultimately, Boston industry had challenge managing the operations of every of this individual stores, and also had to scale the variety of locations back to around 460 shop nationwide.


*
Shutterstock
In the beforehand 1990s, the ide probably seemed pretty revolutionary: rather of buying a life chicken in ~ the supermarket, bringing that home, dressing it, roasting it, sterilizing your kitchen to guard against salmonella, and carving the finished cooking recipes yourself, what if you could pick up a totality rotisserie chicken big enough to feed whole family, already cooked and ready come serve, through a complement of assorted next dishes, on your way home native a long day at the office?


The idea captured on quickly, and also heads of family members were quick to answer favorably come the convenience that a home-cooked meal, however without the time and expense of house cooking. The difficulty was that the concept was too easy to punch off; inside of a just a few years, every supermarket in the country installed rotisserie ovens, and also began supplying their very own pre-roasted chickens, regularly at a fraction of the price the the very same meal in ~ Boston Market. Then-CEO George Michel placed it just to The Washington Post in 2015, saying, "Between 4:30 and also 6:30, we compete with the supermarkets." For numerous customers, the ease of make one stop at the grocery keep (where lock could likewise grab various other staples, such together a bread of bread, toilet paper, or diapers) come buy a finish meal eclipsed the convenience available at Boston Market.


*
Getty Images
The breakneck speed of Boston Market"s location development in the beforehand 1990s confronted an abrupt food correction in 1998, once the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Complying with that restructuring of corporate debt, the chain closed nearly 700 locations; the variety of Boston sector restaurants left standing today can be measure in the hundreds, not thousands.


Will the building of recently christened Boston industry locations note the next structure boom in the quick company food market? more than likely not. As Fortune report in 2015, the chain had actually opened only four new locations in the two years prior, a philosophical departure from their previously expansion strategy. Instead, the company would be focusing much more on "average unit volume," i beg your pardon is a billionaire corporate board executive"s way of saying, "We need the stores we already have to every make, like, way more money." Boston Market set an yearly per-store sales goal of $1.5 million per unit, a difference of about fifty percent a million dollars much more from what the company reported in 2010. And while we may have flunked out service school, we have to admit that strategy renders a lot much more sense.


*
Instagram
Boston Market"s ahead marketing efforts may not have adequately connected potential consumer to the brand. Though the agency reported safety about 60 percent that its full ad-buying spending plan on television ads, those ads haven"t constantly resonated through customers.


Previous marketing initiatives have focused primarily on the value of a Boston market meal, or turned the chain"s restricted time offerings. Now, the brand is changing the focus of that marketing article to include more information about the top quality of the food itself and how it is prepared, rather of squawking about the recent coupon deals. Of the brand-new and improved ad campaign, then-CEO George Michel said Fortune, "It highlights in a bold way what to adjust Boston industry apart from our competitors. New from the farm yard to our ovens, and then to our customers." In a nod to what drives the purchases of modern consumers, Boston market is likewise working to highlight the low salt content of some of its meals, and also recommending meal combinations that total less 보다 500 calories. 


Will this renewed emphasis on ingredients, quality, and also healthy lifestyles assist Boston industry to move the sales needle? despite the readjust in message feels like a step in the appropriate direction, Boston industry will hardly it is in the only chain hanging your hats ~ above the "farm freshness" of your product... We"ll see if they deserve to shout loudly sufficient over the marketing noise of their competitors.


*
Getty Images
The food itself wasn"t frequently the problem at many Boston market locations; consumers usually reacted favorably to the chain"s signature combine of rotisserie chicken, audioeditorfree.com potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, cinnamon apples, and steamed vegetables. But at many locations, save overhead — the parts of the restaurant"s budget plan that you don"t regularly think about, which consists of things huge and small, like rent and napkins — was excessively high.


In fact, everything at some Boston industry locations was expensive, native the high price that the actual estate, come the high-quality construction, to the software application for the operating equipment that ran the cash registers. If you could pay too lot for something, Boston industry did it; also their food and also disposable goods budget plan hovered at roughly 38 percent, i m sorry is at the very least 6 percent higher than industry norms. Richard Papiernik, financial editor of Nation"s Restaurant News, told Entrepreneur, "In a restaurant industry experienced roundtable we had, one of the human being there was glad as soon as Boston sector filed because he claimed the restaurant genuine estate market might start to go back to normal."


As Boston market was overpaying at nearly every turn, it intended that the volume of client each ar needed to save out the the red to be unusually high, and also in plenty of cases, unattainable. 


Something was certainly amiss when Boston sector made that is IPO, or early public share offering, and also it take it years for analysts to untangle the internet of questionable audit that briefly made Boston market one of the at an early stage success stories of the pre-internet stock industry age.


When the company went windy in 1993 (operating then as "Boston Chicken"), the stock to be priced in ~ $20 every share. In ~ a day, the stock shot to around $49 per share, and would nearly dual again through the end of 1996. Seems a little too good to it is in true for a chicken restaurant, doesn"t it?

A 1999 post written by the New York Post seems to indicate that the stock"s movement had little to execute with any type of of the really merits of the business, and was instead manipulated by insider trading and also artificial share price manipulation. There"s one more theory to describe the stock"s expensive success though — follow to The Washington Post, the company"s on-paper gains may have had more to perform with some unusual accounting methods. Boston sector would report stock sector gains as agency profit, loan the money to franchisees (remember all those crazy-fast expansions?), and also then add their royalty and franchise fees to the balance sheet without acquisition individual keep sales into account. The result was the Boston market looked insanely profitable, even as individual franchisees were suffering.


For every one of the fast gains investors saw after the IPO, they were wiped out soon thereafter as soon as the agency filed for bankruptcy much less than five years later.


While numerous customers might agree that the food at Boston Market is quite darn good, with some even expressing slavish devotion to the chain"s macaroni and also cheese, it"s not precisely cutting edge. Boston Market"s whole company was built on the ide of "home cooking," the kinds of meals the you could have on a Sunday at her weird grandmother"s house. And also while this type of food preparation might have a specific homey comfort, it"s not commonly what contemporary consumers are searching for when selecting a restaurant.


What do modern-day diners want? Multi-cultural offerings, including Korean, Filipino, and also Persian flavors. Healthy, plant-based options, including meatless burgers and Yucca fries. Creative, over-the-top dipping sauces and also glazes. According come QSR, these are the fads that will drive quick company consumer spending in 2019. Through so plenty of intensely flavorful, imaginative offerings exploding throughout the national dining landscape, it makes sense the "roast chicken and potatoes" fixed inspires the same excitement and also social media frenzy as, say, an order of kimchi fries, topped v a four-cheese blend, spicy mayonnaise, Sriracha, caramelized kimchi, green and white onions, cilantro, and roasted sesame seeds.


Executives in ~ Boston industry seem come have gotten the memo. Follow to then-CEO George Michel in a story by The Washington Post, customers were in search of "more fire in the food," which would describe the chain"s addition of a sweet Thai chili garlic sauce and also a honey habanero sauce to your menu.


At that inception, the marketing team in ~ Boston sector was quick to settle on a dining concept for the chain: "Home enjoy the meal replacement," i m sorry the company predicted would come to be the brand-new norm whereby Americans would certainly eat the majority of their dinnertime meals through the rotate of the millennium. 


But a major misstep in the mid-1990s would contribute to the decline of Boston Market: The advent of sandwiches at lunchtime, which significant the chain"s entry into the hyper-competitive rapid food space. According to a spokesperson for Boston Market, in a conversation with The Washington Post, the agency was "going under the dorn track." To press the lunch offerings, they blanketed the sector with too many coupons which finishing up undercutting profits, however that wasn"t the just drawback — the chain"s image of gift the "home meal replacement" take it a hit, too. As a result, Boston Market"s lunch company actually grew, yet their dinner organization fell.

The lunch business at Boston industry hasn"t unable to do away, and also the company continues to focus on quick, grab-and-go items like sandwiches and pre-assembled meals to boost its midday numbers, however there"s no doubt that the restaurant"s core principle suffered as a result.


When you"re considering a romantic night out, or also trying to imagine a place where girlfriend can bring the household without the youngsters getting vinyl booth-burn on the backs of your thighs, Boston industry probably doesn"t spring automatically to mind. Also if girlfriend love the food, the atmosphere at Boston industry isn"t precisely crackling with appetite-stimulating energy. Sure, most of the construction feels pretty high end, and even the oldest locations don"t necessarily feel operation down, however there"s miscellaneous about that long single line and the buffet format ordering that makes the entirety experience feel choose dining at an off-brand budget casino.


The difficulty is, customers recently are looking for that careful balance between convenience and experience; in other words, they desire to have the ability to quickly location an order and get earlier to what they to be doing, however sometimes they also want come lounge roughly in a pleasant environment. Boston sector seems to be having actually trouble highlight this mindful balance.


Okay, so girlfriend can"t entirely blame Boston market for this one; they"re just another agency that radically underestimate the raw purchasing strength of this newfangled "Internet" thing, even as the stuffed shirts in the marketing department to be trying to obtain their heads around what "a global network the networks" might possibly mean. (Oh, to have actually been a fly on the wall surface at some of those early on dot-com strategy meetings: "See, we"re gonna invest $6 million ~ above a Superbowl ad where this sock monkey tells people to buy 50-pound bags that dog food on the details Superhighway!")


So as soon as Boston sector tried an old-school marketing strategy — a coupon that afforded the owner a chicken meal for simply a buck — they possibly hadn"t taken into consideration what would take place once it met the large distribution the the Internet. Spoiler alert: chaos ensued. Follow to AOL, for this reason many human being tried come cash in your deeply discounted chicken coupons in ~ the same time that many locations couldn"t store up v demand. One restaurant in Florida post handwritten indications in the home window pleading through customers to only cash in one coupon at a time, and many customers were turned far without receiving their meals.

Unfortunately because that the company, this is the type of misstep that consumers have tendency to remember.


Things really seemed to be looking up because that the struggling Boston Market empire in the year 2000, as soon as megachain McDonald"s swooped in and also acquired the company out of bankruptcy. Expectations were high; in a press release at the time, an executive at Boston market said, "We"re pleased the the court has now clearing the method for Boston industry to arise from bankruptcy and become part of the world"s largest foodservice company. ... With the benefit of McDonald"s resources and also expertise, we"ll currently be may be to carry out our customers through an even better restaurant endure — and also our employee with an excellent new development opportunities." The expectation, obviously, was that if anyone can turn the challenged firm around, it would be the McDonald"s corporation, who operates one of the largest fast food chains in the world.

See more: How Many Calories Do You Lose In A Mile, How Many Calories Do You Burn Running A Mile


Did they pull it off? Well, yes and no. Despite sales began to rebound thanks to the monitor of the McDonald"s executive team, they firm also guided Boston industry into some peculiar arenas, including the sales of some dishes together frozen food item in supermarkets, which seemed favor a bit of a contradiction of the company"s original concept. Through 2007, McDonald"s had assisted stopped the hemorrhaging and stabilized the agency at around 500 locations, before politely ducking the end in a fast sale come Sun funding Partners. This would seem to imply that while McDonald"s may have actually been happy to assist the firm turn that finances around in the brief term, that wasn"t anxious to stick approximately for the long haul.