Steak 'n Shake CEO: To Turn Things Around, Let's Ditch Cherries

Among other plans he has for the struggling fast food chain
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2019 1:23 PM CDT
Steak 'n Shake CEO: To Turn Things Around, Let's Ditch Cherries
Employees of Reinhold Electric Inc. in St. Louis worked Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, to re-wire and put up new signage for the Alton, Ill., Steak n Shake restaurant at the corner of Alby Street and Homer Adams Parkway.   (AP Photo/The Telegraph, John Badman)

Steak 'n Shake is not doing well: The fast food chain suffered an $18.9 million operating loss in the first quarter on top of a $10.7 million loss last year, customer traffic is down, 60 of its restaurants have been temporarily shuttered, and it owes $7.7 million in unpaid overtime to employees. But its CEO has a plan that can at least make a dent: Leave the cherries off the milkshakes. Sardar Biglari reportedly made the suggestion to investors at the annual meeting of parent company Biglari Holdings last month, saying that removing the cherries from the chain's signature shakes would save $1 million per year. Shareholders were less than impressed with that plan as well as Biglari's other suggestions for how to turn things around, which included a suggestion of investing $40 million in new milkshake machines, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

The IBJ cites a post on investing website Seeking Alpha about the no-cherries plan: "Three different shareholders pointed out, in conversations, how ridiculous that sentiment is. … Given all [the dubious expenses], shareholders were pointing out that maybe there is a better way to save $1 million rather than eliminating cherries." Fox Business notes that Twitter users were similarly unamused, with one suggesting a boycott if the chain goes through with it. Of Biglari's other milkshake idea, an attendee tells IBJ: "He is literally inventing a new milkshake making process—he said at the meeting that this was going to be a patented process—and that is going to speed up service," said the shareholder. "The shareholders seemed to think this was ridiculous." Biglari also wants to transition the company's approximately 400 restaurants into individually operated franchises. (Another bad headline for Steak 'n Shake.)

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