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

  • Allison Sullivan was amazing! 

    She found my resume online and reached out to me. I had been in the market looking for the right next step in my career for several months and had been receiving calls daily from different recruiters so I didn’t expect anything magical to occur overnight. Allison called me, we chatted quickly about my work experience and she advised me she thought I’d be perfect for a client she was working with….and literally the next day I got a call for an interview with the client. The day after the interview, I was immediately offered a position consulting on insurance claim management. Allison was checking in with me each step of the way and made the transition from unemployed to working at a career I’m excited about in no time at all! I cannot thank her and Patrice & Associates enough for all their help!  

    ~ Shane Laughran

    Allison Sullivan was amazing!
  • I am very thankful for Liz Costa.

    She was kind, informative, and very encouraging during the process of applying, interviewing, and finally accepting the position once it was offered to me. I have worked with several recruiters before and Liz was the most friendly and professional at the same time. She made me feel comfortable and also made me feel confident during the interview process. After only a few weeks, I now consider Liz a friend and would certainly recommend her to anyone who is in the looking in the labor market. Thank you Liz, I appreciate you as a person and a professional.

    ~Brent

    I am very thankful for Liz Costa
  • Jonathan Litt set me up for success!

    I am truly excited to start this new journey at this restaurant. I can honestly say I don't think I would have been able to pull this off without Jonathan Litt's help. He was more than professional but at the same time he was authentic and explained everything I needed to do to make things work. He definitely set me up for success. My confidence level wasn't what it used to be, but with his help he made me believe in myself. He encouraged me and believed in me as well. I will never forget his efforts. My appreciation for his work and dedication will always be remembered. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this process. I am forever grateful.

    Thank you again,

    Latifah Walker

    Jonathan Litt set me up for success!
  • Recruitment & Hiring for Sales Jobs - Patrice & AssociatesRick Weaver is a pleasure to work with!

    Very helpful and professional! Goes out of his way for people!          

    Thank you for all you do!

    Ken M.

    Rick Weaver is a pleasure to work with!
  • Rick Weaver is great!

    I love it at my new career and picture my future here. Rick was awesome in helping me choose where I need to be and how I had to get there. It took a lot of interviews and me turning jobs down because it wasn’t a fit for me. At my new career I’m in the right place!  

    Thank you,

    Shaunte

    Rick Weaver is great!