At an annual Boston Market employee meeting, CEO Mike Andres said that the company's owner, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), is exploring the idea of selling off the chain. Even though Boston Market is a small part of the McDonald's empire, the discussion is an indication that McDonald's is continuing to find ways to improve its operations.

Background
Boston Market got its start in 1985 with a simple concept: fast and high-quality homestyle food, such as mashed potatoes and corn bread. It resonated with consumers, and the company grew at a torrid rate, capped by a high-profile IPO in 1993. By 1997, the company posted more than $1 billion in revenues.

But over the next year, the company plunged into chaos as its market softened. The company also had a bloated cost structure, deteriorating service, and a franchise system that was too lenient. By late 1998, the company had to file for bankruptcy protection.

Diversification
After a few years of restructuring at Boston Market, McDonald's bought the chain for about $173 million, and the frozen-food business was sold to HJ Heinz (NYSE:HNZ). McDonald's saw the Boston Market deal as a way to diversify its restaurant business -- the same reason it has bought other brands, including Chipotle (NYSE:CMG), and Donato's Pizza.

However, diversification proved to be a distraction and a drain on McDonald's cash flows, and now McDonald's is in the process of unloading these assets. It recently spun off Chipotle, in what has turned out to be a stellar deal.

McDonald's may try a spinoff with Boston Market, or sell the chain to a private equity firm. But with about 630 restaurants in the Boston Market chain, a transaction will likely have little financial impact on McDonald's

On the other hand, it will mean that the company can focus even more on its core business and increase the pressure on its competitors, including Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) and Burger King (NYSE:BKC). So far, the company's strategy is getting lots of traction in terms of profitability and same-store growth. Its willingness to shed Boston Market is further evidence that it wants to keep up the momentum.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 1,623 out of more than 20,000 participants in Motley Fool CAPS.