Black Bear Diner

Lodge-themed concept elevates family-dining experience with casual-dining touches.

At Black Bear Diner, it’s all about value — and bears.

Bob and Laurie Manley, along with partner Bruce Dean, founded Black Bear Diner in Mt. Shasta, Calif., as a restaurant offering American comfort foods in a bear-infested, mountain lodge-themed setting that defies simple categorization.

Black Bear offers food and service more befitting of casual dining, despite its diner name. Guests feel they’re getting a great value, said Doug Branigan, Black Bear’s vice president of franchise development and operations.

“We’re polished family dining, in the upper tier of family dining,” he said.

The concept, founded in 1995, competes with brands ranging from Cracker Barrel to Mimi’s Café and offers a menu of homestyle dishes with “bear-sized” portions, from the popular chicken-fried steak to a tri-tip platter. Unlike most family-dining concepts, however, Black Bear offers beer and wine.

The average check is about $13 per person. Restaurants are typically between 4,800 and 5,800 square feet.

Based in Redding, Calif., Black Bear has grown to include 63 units in eight states, though core locations are across Northern California.

Four more are expected to open before the end of 2014, with another eight to 10 planned next year. The company aims to reach 100 locations by 2018.

Currently, 46 of the restaurants are franchised and five are corporate owned, with another 12 considered “affiliated licensed” restaurants owned by company executives.

The chain had $135 million in U.S. systemwide sales in 2013, a nearly 24-percent increase over the prior year. The company won’t disclose same-store sales, but said sales trends have been positive for 14 consecutive quarters.

Black Bear ended fiscal 2013 with 61 locations, a nearly 13-percent increase over the prior year, and estimated sales per unit were $2.3 million, up 11 percent.

Keys to success

Even daypart sales: Sales are roughly split evenly between breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dinner accounting for about 35 percent of sales. Family-dining competitors like Denny’s and IHOP, meanwhile, are struggling to build their evening business.

Value: The portions are generous and guests feel they are getting a lot for their money.

Anti-chain: No two restaurants are the same, though they all incorporate a certain namesake animal in the decor, including black bear totems carved from logs and black-bear-themed murals.

Relaxed atmosphere: It’s come-as-you-are and bring the kids. Servers wear jeans and suspenders and guests pay at a cashier on their own timing.

Authenticity: “We never intended this to be a chain. Mt. Shasta isn’t exactly a bastion of brand development,” said David Doty, Black Bear’s chief marketing officer. “It’s really the consumer that’s been pulling us along. The brand just resonates with them.”

 

Back

What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • Amy is genuine, honest and has a passion for what she does.

    Amy contacted me in a time where I was unhappy where I was but wasn’t doing anything to change it. She was very informative and if she didn’t have the information at hand, she got it. She revamped an old resume making it more about achievements than responsibilities. She coached me on interview tactics before multiple interviews and was there to talk about them afterwards. Every conversation we had felt more like a friendship than business. She is genuine, honest and has a passion for what she does. She also helped boost my confidence through the entire interview progress. Whatever she is doing, she must be doing it right because I got the job! Thanks Amy for a life changing experience.
    Sincerely,
    Shawn Ware
    Amy is genuine, honest and has a passion for what she does.
  • I really appreciate Tim for all his handwork and consistency.

    He saw a lot of potential in me which allowed me to apply for a higher position than I had first intended. Although the process wasn't easy he was still very honest and trustworthy. I am very grateful to have received his guidance. I really appreciate Tim for all his handwork and consistency.
  • I want to thank Tim...

    ...for all the time he spent helping me acquire my new career. He has helped by assisting me with redesigning my resume and keeping in contact with me throughout the entire process.  His actions showed that he really cared and wanted the best for me. Thanks again, Dominic Almanza I want to thank Tim
  • I would 100% recommend Ross

    I cannot begin to thank Ross and Karen enough! without the two of them I wouldn't have even known about the position! The interview process was quick, easy and simple. After only a short week I was in a position I knew I was going to love forever and it was all thanks to them! Ross has been so good about following up with me even after being hired, asking how my experience has been, what hours I'm working etc. and to top it all off Ross even sent me a gift card thanking me for working with him. I would 100% recommend Ross to anyone looking for a career in the industry!
    Cheers,
    Bayley Ferreira
    I would 100% recommend Ross
  • I had the pleasure of working with Doug Lockwood

    Doug was extremely professional and was very easy to work with. He was quick to respond, made himself available anytime I had a question, and was always checking in through the entire process. He coached me through the interview process by sending over necessary documents to read over on my own time, giving pointers on the phone, and talking through details. You can tell Doug cares for each person he works with. Even after getting the job, he is still checking in to see how things are going and making sure all is going well. I would recommend Doug to anyone when looking to start their career or looking for a career change. He was a great resource to have when needed.
    Thanks,
    Tony
    I had the pleasure of working with Doug Lockwood