You can't satisfy everyone. Some customers may leave grumbling that Bob Evans Farms
Despite the average 2.6% rise in menu prices, same-store sales in August at Bob Evans' namesake stores grew by a solid 4.3%. People will typically pay more for what they like, of course, and by keeping fresh and innovative products in the menu mix, such as the new Country Stir-Fry, management kept customers coming back for more.
However, it looks as though people weren't willing to shell out the extra 3.9% in menu prices to sit down at the company's Mimi's Cafe stores, where comps fell 1.9%. That chain has run into difficulties, more in line with the trend that seems to be forming in much of the casual-dining sector, triggered by higher gas and food prices that have stalled consumer spending. You wouldn't want to dine on Brinker's
Bob Evans' management is not oblivious to Mimi's struggles, and it's looking for strategies to rejuvenate the chain's performance, such as including curbside service, rolling out new promotional activities, and strategizing its menu mix with appetizers and bar items.
I'm willing to give Bob Evans the benefit of the doubt. The company is taking positive steps to improve its Mimi's Cafe business, even though its sluggish performance is of lesser importance because Bob Evans restaurants outnumber Mimi's locations five-to-one. However, at a trailing P/E of nearly 20, the stock is not extremely cheap. So for now, even though offering fresh food at decent prices will never go out of style, this company looks more appealing to me as a consumer than as an investor.
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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. Feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.