O’Charley’s Reinventing Itself Under New Ownership

Restaurant officials say some new patrons have been confused by old signage, mistaking the eatery for an Irish pub. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Restaurant officials say some new patrons have been confused by old signage, mistaking the eatery for an Irish pub. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

The new owners of Nashville-based O’Charley’s have announced plans to sink as much as a quarter million dollars into each of their 213 stores. The prototype formally opened Wednesday in Franklin.

There was a time when just about all a restaurant chain needed was good food and friendly service, says American Blue Ribbon Holdings CEO Hazem Ouf.

“Today you have specialized guys who do great with steaks, Asian food, Italian food, and so a restaurant like O’Charley’s found itself in a place where we had to identify what are we good at? What do our guests know us for? And of course we had to take that to the next level.”

The restaurant’s new menu plays up its southern roots with fried chicken and pecan pie. The logo has been modernized. And each store has a signature O-shaped booth front and center.

American Blue Ribbon Holdings, which moved its headquarters to Nashville after buying O’Charley’s in May, launched a similar makeover to a struggling Midwestern chain called Max & Erma’s last year. Middle-market restaurants around the country have been revamping in an effort to compete as some analysts believe chains overbuilt prior to the recession.

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