- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Clayton Wike got the best of both worlds when he stepped into the new Long John Silver’s and A&W; All American Food restaurant last week in Capitol Heights.

The hungry diner feasted on the unusual combination of an A&W; double bacon cheeseburger and a Long John Silver’s fish sandwich for lunch.

“This beats going to a carryout,” he said, commenting on the variety of fish and burger choices he had.

It’s that choice that keeps Yum Brands Inc., owner of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W; All American Food, mixing and matching its brands.

Yum, which has combined such foods as pizza and tacos and chicken and burgers all under one roof, now has more than 2,800 multibrand restaurants worldwide, with the majority in the United States. The company added 550 stores last year and has plans to open another 550 locations in 2005.

The company is expanding its Long John Silver’s and A&W; co-branded concept, which marries fish, burgers and root beer. There are already about 275 locations in the United States.

The first one in the Washington area opened March 15 near FedEx Field. The 3,200-square-foot restaurant has about 60 employees. The Washington market can expect four to five more Long John Silver’s and A&W; combination restaurants this year.

“We want to establish Long John Silver’s and A&W; as a viable brand in this market,” said Chuck Rawley, chief development officer for Yum Brands. “Washington is a dynamic market.”

Yum’s other multibrand restaurants are not new to the Washington area; about 45 locations are in this market. Next year Yum plans to expand the Long John Silver’s and Taco Bell co-branded restaurants, Mr. Rawley said.

The Louisville, Ky., restaurant company, which has more than 33,000 restaurants worldwide and more than $9 billion in annual revenue, started multibranding in 1992 with a Taco Bell and KFC eatery in Tappahannock, Va.

The multibranding strategy has given Yum a competitive advantage by allowing the company to penetrate markets that are cost-prohibitive or don’t have the population density to support a single concept, Mr. Rawley said.

Multibranding is a growing concept in the quick-service restaurant industry. For instance, Dunkin Donuts has paired up with Baskin-Robbins and sandwich chain Togo’s, which are all part of Allied Domecq PLC.

Restaurant officials say the choice of brands in one location drives sales and exposes people to brands they may not have tried otherwise. Yum’s multibrand restaurants bring in about $250,000 more sales per year than a single-brand restaurant.

From a business perspective, co-branding makes sense, said Kelly O’Keefe, president of O’Keefe Brands, a brand strategy and marketing firm in Richmond.

Quick-service restaurants are expanding the concept because they can offer more foods during different meal times, creating more dining traffic all day and using the location and the employees more effectively, Mr. O’Keefe said.

For diners, it comes down to choice. Yum says customers prefer the choice and convenience of a multibrand location 6 to 1 over a regular, single-brand restaurant.

Mr. O’Keefe cautions that companies have to “proceed fairly cautiously” when using co-branding strategies because it could have a long-term effect on the brand.

Consumers may have a certain expectation of a particular brand. A multibrand restaurant often doesn’t offer all the same menu items as it would at a single-concept location. Sometimes the restaurant is cramped with the two brands, he said.

“Yum is doing this very fast and furious,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “They have fantastic brands that are well known. If they are not careful they can go downhill.”

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