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POPS revamps menu February 26, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Restaurants.
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POPS, the Route 66 landmark in Arcadia, Okla., that’s best-known for its 66-foot-tall pop bottle and more than 500 brands of soda it sells, recently revamped the menu of its cafe, reports the Daily Oklahoman.

Oklahoma City restaurateurs Keith and Heather Paul were hired to make the changes after discussing the idea with POPS owner and Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. Among the food establishments the Pauls own are Market C and Cheever’s Cafe, both of which are on or very near Route 66 and are historic properties — including a restored Phillips 66 cottage-style gas station.

Gone are the steaks and more exotic fare. Instead, Paul has revamped the menu into one that emphasizes “gourmet road food” headlined by burgers, hot dogs, chicken fried steak, a few salads, sodas and shakes.

“We kept some old favorites and centralized the menu to accommodate the crowds,” Paul said.

“We tried to keep it as simple as possible and operationally a successful functioning restaurant. We’re getting over the weekends 1,500 people a day.”

So POPS is trying to get food to diners faster and cut down on the wait-in-line times on the weekends, which have sometimes stretched to 90 minutes since it opened.

Here is a link to a pdf of POPS’ new menu.

I had a meal at Cheever’s a few weeks ago, and it was terrific. So I understand why McClendon has a lot of faith in them.

Comments»

1. DynoDave - February 28, 2009

Ron, any idea what percentage of those customers are locals Vs. travelers? Just wondering how many locals are coming out for dinner, and may not now that their choices have been trimmed.

I’m always a little nervous for the business owner when they have (from what I read here) a hugely successful business, and then while things are going great, decide to change their formula. Yes, 90 minute waits are problem, but what a nice problem to have!

Ron - February 28, 2009

I don’t know the ratio of locals/travelers. I suspect the travelers number is pretty high, though.

I don’t think changing the menu is going to have much of an adverse effect. The story made it clear that they’re keeping the old favorites. The bigger problem was the wait times on weekends, which seemed to be not slackening. McClendon hired those two people because 1) they’re very good restaurateurs; and 2) streamlining the menu probably will cut down on the wait times. Both are good things.

I personally think restaurants make the mistake of having too big of a menu. Restaurants should be very, very good at a few things and not bother to serve food they’re indifferent or unqualified to serve. Just look at the Boundary barbecue place down the road in Luther; it serves only about seven entries total. But the Boundary is very, very good at what it does and is thriving.

I think POPS’ big draw is not the restaurant, but the 500 brands of soda available. Tons of people go in there to get a six-pack of something they usually can’t get locally, like Dublin Dr Pepper. Sales of the soda were more than double the projections in the first year. And the markup on the soda itself makes it very profitable.

2. DynoDave - February 28, 2009

Thanks for the details Ron. Sounds like they are in good hands.


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