Nathan's To Convert Miami Subs To Co-Branded Concept


Westbury, New Jersey-Nathan's Famous is running full speed ahead with conversion plans for its stalled Miami Subs Grill chain, which will give the 12-year-old quick-serve concept a new identity and a strategically branded menu.

Resurfacing as Miami Subs Plus, much of the 145-unit sandwich chain is being modified to showcase signature selections from co-branding partners Nathan's Famous, Kenny Rogers Roasters and Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips.

About 40 restaurants in the core south Florida market have been converted over the past three months to the Miami Subs Plus format, and another 50 are expected to be completed by the end of June, said Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of parent company Nathan's Famous Inc.

Nathan's Famous purchased the Miami Subs and Kenny Rogers Roasters chains in 1999. At the time, Miami Subs growth had floundered, largely because of management instability, while Kenny Rogers was undergoing Chapter 11-bankruptcy reorganization. The Miami Subs acquisition also gave Nathan's the exclusive co-branding rights to fast-food seafood operator Arthur Treacher's.

The stepped-up conversion of Miami Subs is only one aspect of the 85-year-old Nathan's ongoing strategy to expand its brands through multiple channels. The company is pursuing company and franchised growth here and abroad; co-branding synergies within its individual restaurant systems; branded programs in nontraditional or "captive" venues; and licensing agreements that will position its signature products in supermarkets and club stores.

The company has moved forward with the new Miami Subs Plus prototype. The centerpiece of the revamped concept is its multibrand menu, which features signature items from all four concepts. Selections from the other three brands include Nathan's hot dogs and French fries; Kenny Rogers' grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken platters; and Arthur Treacher's fillet of fish, shrimp and clams. While a number of earlier Miami Subs menu items have been removed, the Plus menu features chicken and gyro pita sandwiches; chicken wings; Philly cheesesteak and cold submarine sandwiches.

The new menu, drive-thru and preview boards feature the Miami Subs Plus logo, while all items are highlighted with individual brand logos. -Nation's Restaurant News