Why You Don’t See Many Bob Evans Restaurants Around Anymore

Why You Don’t See Many Bob Evans Restaurants Around Anymore


While you can still find its popular side
dishes in grocery stores, the days could be numbered for Bob Evans restaurants. Here are all the reasons why your local Bob
Evans may have a “vacancy” sign in the window. Bob Evans’ chief marketing officer Sara Bittorf
said in 2016 that the restaurant’s menu was treating all the items too equally, and that
this democratic approach was hurting the menu’s real food stars. “We did some consumer research, and we found
that our menu was a little bit overwhelming to people. We wanted to create a menu that really allowed
people to see and find the great products that we’re known for [and that] will leave
them highly satisfied.” “This menu’s like 30 pages long. I haven’t had to read this much since med
school!” While then-president John Fisher said ditching
20 items proved to be a popular move with the restaurant’s servers, some customers weren’t
feeling it. Still, the chain continued to experiment with
their menu and occasionally dropped popular items over the next few years. One patron wrote on Pissed Consumer, “I just learned that Bob Evans has discontinued
serving blueberry & strawberry crepes as part of their breakfast menu […] These were the
best items on the menu.” Blueberry crepes made a quick return after
that disappearance, but if strawberry is your thing, depending on your location, you might
be out of luck. A few years before Bob Evans put all its eggs
in the takeout basket, the company tried to take a slice out of the pizza delivery market
with the “Family Meals To Go” campaign. The company launched the campaign in 2010
with the tagline, “think outside the pizza box” and even offered a discount to customers
who cheated on their favorite pizza chain by bringing in competitor coupons. “If it isn’t hot, there’s a 50 pence refund
on your next purchase of diet or regular Pepsi. The offer only applies between 6:30 and 7
Mondays and Tuesdays.” The campaign was targeted more at working
parents than college students, and each meal included an entree with sides and bread for
a little less than $20. While $20 certainly wasn’t bad when it came
to buying a family meal, it still wasn’t as cheap as pizza can be. And even today, with delivery options such
as DoorDash and Grubhub, the pizza market still owns the world of delivery and takeout. In retrospect, Bob Evans never stood a chance
in that fight. Takeout and delivery have had a huge impact
on how people buy food. The change has been so radical that some restaurants
are actually scaling down space for dine-in customers simply because there aren’t enough
walking through the door. Bob Evans is no different in that they’ve
seen dine-in numbers decline over the years, and as a result, they’ve tried to offset the
slide with more emphasis on takeout. In 2014, the chain ramped up takeout efforts,
and Nations Restaurant News reported same-store sales rose 22.6 percent in the takeout category
that year. It seemed like Bob Evans had found the golden
ticket to offset a 1.5-percent decline in same-store sales. But the takeout boom didn’t prove quite strong
enough to offset the empty booths. Dine-in sales continued to slip by 3.4 percent
and while takeout was up 25 percent. it’s likely that the takeout orders were cannibalizing
what could have been dine-in sales, and the result was an overall drop in profits for
Bob Evans. How bad is the meatloaf at Bob Evans? It’s so bad that it just might kill you, or
at least that’s what a lawsuit claimed. According to the complaint, Harold and Virginia
Starcher ate the meatloaf at a Bob Evans restaurant in West Virginia in 2012 and nine hours later
were violently ill and in the emergency room. Their children, who filed the lawsuit, claimed
that both parents were moved into a rehabilitation center and neither ever fully recovered from
the food poisoning. Within a couple of months, both Harold and
Virginia were dead. The case moved on to federal court in 2014. While it’s unclear if the case was dismissed
or it was settled for an undisclosed amount related to the more than $250,000 the children
were seeking, it’s not the sort of publicity that gets people fired up about Meatloaf Mondays. Let’s say you’re on a road trip and there’s
a Bob Evans on one side of the road and a Cracker Barrel on the other. Which place are you hitting up for country
cooking? If you’re like the majority of Americans,
the answer is probably Cracker Barrel, which reported healthy growth in 2018, with an increase
in both in-store restaurant sales and in-store retail sales. Poor Bob Evans continued its yearly sales
decline. Cracker Barrel also continued its westward
expansion by breaking into the California market. Meanwhile, Bob Evans was busy closing multiple
locations. And if you ask Twitter, it seems like Cracker
Barrel has a slight edge over Bob Evans in taste, too. One Twitter user said, Another added, “Cracker Barrel. One thing Cracker Barrel has done well is
persuade its customers to spend a little more in its retail shops. Their old country store has been around for
decades, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Bob Evans tried a similar idea. The chain didn’t go all out and start selling
quilts, but they did bring a, quote, “farm-style menu and aesthetic” to their restaurants with
what they called “Taste of the Farm.” The idea was to sell quick-grab items — t-shirts,
baking mixes, jellies, syrups — so that people could take a piece of Bob Evans home
with them. Director of communications Margaret Standing
said at the time, “We realize that the way people eat these
days is not just by going to sit down in your restaurant. They want your brand to be reaching out and
touching them in different ways.” How much customers actually wanted the Bob
Evans brand to rea ch out and touch them is debatable. Despite the company calling the concept a
hit at the time, they continued to grapple with sales drops in 2010 and beyond. It’s not uncommon for chain restaurants to
remodel locations every few years in the hopes of bringing customers back to check out the
new digs. In 2012, Bob Evans launched what they called
a “Farm-Fresh Refresh” remodeling program of restaurants throughout the Midwest. Besides the standard new paint job, seating,
and lighting fixtures, the restaurants were installed with a dedicated takeout section
and bakery counter. The remodeling eventually spread throughout
all 561 Bob Evans restaurants, but was it worth it? “They just slapped on a new coat of paint
and resold it for double the price!” In 2012, then-CEO Steve Davis said that the
remodeled stores were showing good performance, but that didn’t exactly hold steady in the
long run. New paint and a bakery counter can only carry
a restaurant so far. According to Forbes, the $225,000 spent per
store only added to the company’s growing debt while same-store sales declined in 2014. It might seem a little odd for a restaurant
chain known for pot roast and fried chicken to bring a French restaurant into the fold. Nevertheless, Bob Evans acquired French-inspired
casual-dining restaurant Mimi’s Cafe in 2004 for $182 million. Within a decade, Bob Evans was looking to
ditch it. Sales were on a sharp decline at Mimi’s in
2011 and despite recruiting a former executive from the Cheesecake Factory, things didn’t
turn around. What’s perhaps especially telling is what
Bob Evans sold the 145-unit restaurant chain for. Leading up to its sale, some industry insiders
estimated that the chain would sell for $200 million, but when Bob Evans finally unloaded
its French anchor to LeDuff America, it did so for a price tag of just $50 million. In 2018, a group of employees filed a collective
action suit alleging that Bob Evans incorrectly underpaid them with a tipped minim um wage. The employees claimed that they should have
been paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour since they spent more than 20 percent
of their time performing non-tipped duties. An Ohio federal judge approved a settlement
in which Bob Evans had to fork over $3 million to 1,800 employees. Four years earlier, Bob Evans was sued by
a shareholder claiming that its board of directors stripped shareholders of the ability to change
bylaws with a 51 percent majority vote. For investors who had a significant portion
of Bob Evans shares, it’s easy to see how having the rug pulled out from them by a company
struggling to keep its head above water would be concerning. It may sound like a flimsy excuse, but a nasty
winter really can put a business in the red. Executives at Bob Evans will likely speak
of the “great winter of 2014” with a chilly reverence for years to come because it had
a significant impact on the company’s performance. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
cited the winter of 2013-2014 as being one of the coldest on record for the Midwest,
and that translated to a restaurant sales drop between $3 million and $3.5 million for
Bob Evans. Not only does a blizzard make it less likely
for customers to show up, but it also makes it difficult for the staff. If managers or servers can’t make it to work,
it results in a trickle-down on a restaurant chain’s growth. According to the National Restaurant Association,
90 percent of restaurant operators said that changes in local weather conditions have a
direct effect on sales numbers. In July 2018, Bob Evans announced it had tapped
Ohio Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer as its so-called “Head Breakfast Coach.” A press release at the time read that Meyer… “…embodies the same values the family dining
restaurant was founded on — a down-to-earth, generous and hardworking way of life that
is ‘The Ohio Way’.” Mere days later, the deal was off. In early August 2018, Meyer came under fire
for his alleged mishandling of a domestic abuse situation involving a member of his
coaching staff. “I do believe he knew, and instead he chose
to help the abuser.” While things certainly could have been worse,
compared to the fallout of some other scandals, it also wasn’t the sort of publicity Bob Evans
was looking for to boost their breakfast sales. And it ended up being a bit of a no-win scenario;
when the company announced the end of its partnership with Meyer via Twitter, many Buckeye
loyalists replied they would be taking their business elsewhere. Bob Evans has offered some of its most popular
side dishes in grocery stores since the early 1990s. While Bob Evans’ retail foods division is
now completely separate from its restaurants, they did start out under the same roof. The whole concept was finding a way to offer
convenience to working parents while giving them a better option than fast food. It was maybe a little too successful. As the retail sector grew, the restaurant
side suffered and focus shifted to the company’s most profitable division. According to The Columbus Dispatch, the grocery
foods division of Bob Evans earned $9.8 million through sales of $112 million during the third
quarter of 2016. The restaurants had sales of $223 million,
but actually lost $1.6 million. Bob Evans ended up pouring $20 million into
expanding its production plant in Lima, Ohio, all while its restaurants sales struggled
to make a profit. In April 2017, Bob Evans restaurants’ parent
company, Bob Evans Farms, announced that it would be selling the restaurant division to
Golden Gate Capital. The company had been struggling with debt
for years, and was getting pummeled by competitors. By mid-2016, its profits had fallen 90 percent
and the company was struggling to keep up with the rising costs of doing business. CEO Saed Mohseni said that the restaurants
had simply become too much of a hassle for the company. With its packaged foods business growing,
ditching the restaurant weight was the best option. Mohseni said, “The sale of Bob Evans Restaurants allows
the company to concentrate on Bob Evans Foods, the fastest growing and more profitable segment
of the business.” Golden Gate Capital purchased Bob Evans restaurants
for $565 million, and quickly shuttered a number of locations. According to one spokesperson, cutting the
dead weight was a necessary move to, quote, “focus on our core brand and on aligning our
marketing and operational efforts.” But it’s a pretty cold comfort to the people
who enjoyed eating at the restaurants, and an even worse situation for the workers who
lost their jobs. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
restaurants are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

100 Comments

  1. The service is SLOW and the food has gone downhill. Bob's Evans used to be my favorite breakfast spot… such a shame.

  2. This restaurant and most of the other ones you do videos on are not in Canada but that doesn’t stop me from watching.

  3. No wonder I’ve never even heard of bob Evans restaurant until I saw this video and my nearest one is over an hour away, I mean cmon that’s just an inconvenience! Also, they only have 480 locations in 18 states

  4. As a former Bob Evans server, I can tell you that lots of our food is microwaved. I wish I were BSing you, but I’m not. I have no reason to talk shit on them or lie on a YouTube comment. The turkey dinner? None of that is made fresh. I used to gag whenever I’d smell that turkey straight out of the microwave. Even the country fried stake is frozen and then fried. Like, you’re telling me that a kitchen can’t pound a steak, bread it, and fry it?! All of our soups come in big plastic bags that we’d just heat up in the steam table, so they aren’t made fresh either. The pot pies are all frozen and then baked per order (that’s why we run out often – because they can’t defrost more batches quick enough to pass safety inspections, so however many they pulled in the morning is the set number we can sell that day). The salads are pretty safe, because those are all made to order (by your server, often times. Just FYI). Breakfast foods are usually safe too, because we do use real eggs and pancake batter. But any of the dinner platters, chances are you’re getting something out of the microwave, or it’s been completely frozen for god only knows how long. The mashed potatoes are legit as well, but they come pre-mashed. We don’t even do THAT in-house.

  5. I had never heard of it until i passed it and decided to eat there. It was a hot mess, the atmosphere was old, the waitress took a smoke break and was gone for 20mins, she coughed on our food when handing it to us and then the food was bland like hospital food. I could’ve sworn i stepped into a nursing home. I RAN away from there…legend says they’re still open

  6. I LOVE Cracker Barrel and given the option I'd go to CB. BE I like for Biscuits and Gravy (Which I note you did not mention) BUT ONLY IF the B&G are served HOT! Often I am served with it luke-warm

  7. Other than their world class sausage gravy & biscuits, I can't think of anything from Bob Evans that I can't find elsewhere.

  8. Wrong: How prejudice is Cracker Barrel? Let me count the ways. Oh wait, I CAN'T COUNT THAT DAMNED HIGH!!
    (Google it if you're unsure!)

  9. I live in the Midwest, Indiana, they're plentiful here. The only problem I've ever had at their restaurants is, each one has a different price for the same items. Seems like none of the cashiers know how much their food cost. The only thing I ever get from them is biscuits & gravy, family size, one quart of sausage gravy, and six biscuits. The correct price is $9.53, but depending on who's taking the order at carry-out, they'll screw it up almost every time, I now take an old receipt to show the person waiting on me how much this order is supposed to cost, as opposed to some incorrect amount they come up with. It's amazing to me how somebody can work at a restaurant, and don't know how much their food items cost, Amazing!…

  10. There are just too many "food factory's" in the U.S.A. I would rather visit a small privately or family owned restaurant.

  11. Bob Evans changed the menu for their excellent banana nut bread and cheapened the ingredients eliminating the real bananas for banana flavoring and minimized the nuts. Bob Evans sucks.

  12. Worked here about 5 years ago. I remember corporate cut a lot of peoples hours just under full time so they wouldn’t have to pay out benefits. Some foods alright but most of it’s just microwaved crap that people pay too much for. Much better places pretty much anywhere

  13. OK now this is fucking fake news. And they put the Polar vortex That happened this year 2019 OK this is bullshit

  14. Seen them a lot when I was a truck driver. It's one of those deals where I think "Have I ever seen one here in San Diego before?" I don't think so…..

  15. Same here I have never heard of a restaurant called Bob Evans I live all the way over here in California maybe that's the reason why but I have heard of cracker barrel I never ate in the cracker barrel restaurant people tell me it's just like Denny's but then people tell me that norms is better than Denny's I guess it's people's preference

  16. It’s because Bob Evans changes they’re menu and tried going on fancy with their double-cheeseburger, etc. It was a lot better about 5-6 years ago. Now I’ve stopped going. I was getting their chili for takeout after that tho, coz it’s pretty decent, but then they raised the price without improving the chili, so I’ve stopped going there COMPLETELY. And now it appears they don’t even have the chili anymore. Sad. Now Cracked Barrel. Their cod on Friday is awesome. Go there instead of Bob Evans.

  17. 9:56 Restaurants that sell their products in grocery stores set themselves up for failure. HoJo's, A&W, CPK, Stouffer's, Bob Evans, Marie Callender's.

  18. Far as I know don't even have them in Oklahoma I seen them years ago when I drove truck never stopped at one

  19. Decent restaurant, but I've only had it on the road. However, I won't eat at Cracker Barrel until they change their racist name!

  20. Crap jack barrel I will never eat again because of how they treat truck drivers. Nor will I ever deliver to them either. So Bob Evans.

  21. Never been to a Bob Evans where the service wasn't sorry & the food was cold or late or undercooked or just wrong. Life is too short & I spend too much time making the little money that I get to throw it away at Bob Evans & Co. Ash heap of failed eateries.

  22. I can add a couple more reasons:

    1. Their spaghetti in meat sauce uses sausage crumbles
    2. Their potpie is (or was) full of trans fats.
    3. they sell that Amish candy, and a prick in New Jersey (maybe the whole chain) wouldn't let
    me put in on my credit card, along with the food bill.
    4. in addition to Cracker Barrel, Denny's competes with them, too. They got in trouble for
    racism at their DC Franchise, but that was awhile back.

  23. I never knew this was a restaurant. I thought it was just good cheap instant mashed potatoes in the grocery store.

  24. The food is bad but the service is………………………………………terrible. I went to one once, a long, long time ago, never have set foot in one since.
    It isn't baseball, you don't get 3 strikes. One bad experience and you're out.

  25. I work there, and all the meat is frozen, all the food is premade, and the gravy is frozen and boiled in a pot.

  26. Blueberry strawberry banana waffles with whipped cream is all I want. This isnt difficult guys. Pay me 50,000 a year and I'll design your menu with my eyes literally closed

  27. I worked at Bob’s for 4 years. Lots of ups and downs that came with it, but I can say I enjoyed my time there.

  28. I believe there is/was one in NJ, at Avery large area on nearly the northern end of theNJ TURNPIKE, there area few restaurants , and a few gas stations, with one hell of a TRUCK PARKING AREA
    Cheers from NJ

  29. Last visit to Bob Evens in Mayfield Hts Ohio we were waiting for 10 minutes for someone to seat us in an near empty restaurant…..we just left never to return.

  30. their restaurants are a fucking joke, so is their foods that are sold in stores, our whole family has boycotted bob evans

  31. What about the cooks? I’ve been a cook for 10 years. 4 of that was spent at bob evans. I made 8.00 an hour and it was a grueling job. In the time I was there I only received a 50 raise. The management was also absolutely terrible.

  32. okay 1. The one about the meatloaf should’ve been investigated more , those kids could’ve killed they’re parents and blamed it on the company to get money. 2. Bob Evans is the best fucking place don’t @ me

  33. Went to the Bob Evans in Jonesboro Tennessee. I took my whole family there for Thanksgiving the waitress was the worst waitress of ever had in my entire life first time I ever went to bobevans and the last time

  34. I deliver food to Bob Evans restaurants and I can tell you that I will never eat there because some of the disgusting lack of cleanliness that I see throughout every store I have ever delivered to which is approximately 10.

  35. I have two within 10 minutes of my house and they seem to be doing well. Cracker Barrel is some what over-rated.

  36. Our Bob Evans closed a few years ago. Last time I had Bob Evans was on my way to LEGO land. We used to go for breakfast and there was always a dude there making balloon animals for the kids.

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