Ready to expand as carryout helps grow sales
Thanks to Columbus Business First for this story featuring our significant growth over the last two years.
By Dan Eaton – Staff reporter, Columbus Business First
Sunny Street Café is feeling bright about its growth prospects.
The Columbus-based breakfast, lunch and brunch chain saw double-digit sales growth in 2021 versus 2019. Not only did regular dine-in business returned, but the chain’s pandemic-driven move into carryout and delivery sales has proven to be a consistent traffic driver.
“We had to move to third-party delivery (early in the pandemic),” Vice President of Brand Strategy Mike Stasko said. “We knew those sales were going to come down some at some point, but it’s stayed at a pretty high level. It hasn’t fallen back to pre-pandemic.”
A portion of business that accounted for a single digit of sales prior to the pandemic consistently is now about 20% nearly two years in.
“Dine-in is the name of the game, but delivery obviously is here to stay,” Stasko said.
The shift hasn’t been without challenges. Like other restaurants that didn’t do a large amount of carryout business before, the actual physical space within the eatery wasn’t designed to accommodate that volume.
Stasko said restaurants were forced to get creative and carve out extra areas in the kitchen for service and prep.
“Having a dedicated carryout area is top of mind in our new prototypes,” he said.
Sunny Street also had to make changes to the menu.
“Eggs aren’t the most travel-friendly food,” Stasko said.
Sunny Street not only found better packaging to preserve its meals, it also added more items – like sandwiches, wraps and burritos – that hold up better in transit, even with eggs.
The chain’s catering business has also rebounded, Stasko said. He thinks that’s a consequence of employers wanting to improve culture and create better environments for employees, as many of the orders are for staff breakfasts and lunches.