Miller’s Famous Sandwiches owners Gwen and Roger Graham Jr. are focused on what is needed to take the brand to the next level.
That’s why, after nearly 40 years of operating as an independent restaurant in East Providence, Rhode Island, the third generation operators decided in 2010 to open a second store in Attleboro, Massachusetts, about 10 miles from the.
It is a brutal turning point on the part of those who came before them. When Henry and Ruby Miller first opened Miller’s in 1972, there was no intention of repeating any. As business grew and customer demand continued, the couple settled for making sandwiches at their only restaurant in Rhode Island. The second generation, daughter and son-in-law Ruth and Roger Graham, took over in 1986 and kept the same philosophy.
But when Gwen and Roger took charge of a restaurant in the late 2000s, the duo found opportunities to capitalize on decades of cult demand and meet a need for roast beef sandwiches without artificial preservatives.
In the years following this major decision, financial performance proved them right. Same-store sales have increased over the past four years, and after pivoting during COVID, there still hasn’t been a drop.
That’s why franchising, for the first time in the company’s history, is the next logical step, says Gwen Graham.
âPrevious generations have created something great, but we’re seeing something even bigger,â Graham says. “We think now is the time to lead the way, we like to call it better beef [quick-service restaurant] segment. Five Guys did it back then, right? When they created the market for the best burgers, they spearheaded it, and others have followed their path, but there’s no one right now who really makes a great roast beef sandwich, and we know we have what it takes.
READ MORE: Miller’s Famous Sandwiches Launches Franchise Program
While that’s a clichÃ©, Graham says Miller will adopt a ‘walk before you run’ mentality when it comes to a franchise-led expansion. The chain refuses to make hundreds of deals and end a large number of restaurants sold but not open. With that in mind, the plan is to open five to seven locations over the next two years in markets from Northeast to Florida, including Boston, Charlotte, Raleigh, New York and Washington DC.
Miller’s unique franchise offering begins with its menu, Graham notes. The brand serves six tons of roast beef each month at its two locations, using certified Angus beef that is cooked slowly and slowly overnight. The meat is thinly sliced ââto order, which guests can see through the open kitchen layout.
The restaurant serves turkey, chicken, pastrami, corned beef, pulled pork and lobster sandwiches, but since opening 49 years ago, the roast beef has remained the # 1 seller.
âMore often than not when people hear roast beef they think Arby’s and ours are just better,â Graham says. âThis is only my opinion. This is nothing negative for the brand. We think ours is better.
The food, along with the consistent service and experience, has driven organic growth over the years. But little was done with the brand’s identity, and owners knew they couldn’t go to market without a polish. To boost its franchise potential, Miller’s has teamed up with design and branding agency Rugged Coastal to deliver a major refresh.
The finished product includes bold orange colors and bright lighting on packaging, merchandise and other touch points. The prototype features white tiles on the main walls to keep the space open and bright, and room for a mural or an accent wall to indicate the playfulness of the brand. Other notable upgrades include hardwood floors, overhead lighting above booths and tables, and a neon wall sign.
In addition, the text of “Miller’s” reverted to the original script style of the 1970s, and the artists created “fun and whimsical” illustrations.
âThe ultimate goal of these decisions is to truly communicate to customers – when they are in space – the quality of the product we serve, but also to communicate the Miller’s story and our commitment to customer service that has set us apart. driven to thrive almost 50 years after opening, âGraham says.