Friday, March 9, 2012

A Chevys Revamp


If I say "Chevys", what comes to mind? What memories? When was the last time you were there? I remember that in the late 80s Chevys was the place to be if you wanted to party it up with friends and have some great Mexican food. I remember watching the machine make fresh chips to go with their fantastic salsa. But somewhere around 2000 I realized that the only thing I bothered with was the chips and salsa and rarely did I order any food. How about you?

I recently went to a Chevys VIP event as they were introducing, or rather re-introducing, their original concept. The event was to award local, charitable heroes as well as to announce the brand's revamp. Sacramento has been chosen as the pilot market for this overhaul.

Chevys President Brian Wright was in town for this event and he explained the plan during his speech. Chevys was established in 1986 here in Northern California. Since that time the company has been bought and sold a number of times, each time with profitability and money as the motivator. Each new corporate owner would make changes here and there, tinkering with the concept. Somehow Chevys lost its way. Wright decided to sit down with the founders of Chevys, Warren Simmon Sr. and Warren "Scooter" Simmon Jr., to talk to them about its origins. What was the concept in 1986? What made it special and what had changed? So much had changed that the founder said that the current Chevys was unrecognizable to the 80s original. After hours of discussion, Wright came out of the meeting with a goal to go back to those 80s attributes that had made Chevys a hit.



One of the changes was to update the restaurants to what people like today - to see the food being prepared. Instead of hiding behind closed walls, they are putting viewable kitchen areas, Las Cocinas Frescas, where people can see the fresh ingredients being prepared. They want people to know that they are using fresh, seasonal ingredients, nothing canned, and everything is made to order. The emphasis is on bold flavor with fresh ingredients. Some locations even have step-ups for children to be able to watch.

Food was being passed around by waitstaff. I enjoyed a spicy, yet fresh, shrimp ceviche. There were tortilla chip cones filled with fresh guacamole. Pineapples with skewers of marinated and grilled chicken, steak, and shrimp were popular. The revamp of the Chevys menu is to bring back classic favorites with updated flavors as well as new menu items.

I'm not a drinker, but I was certainly fascinated by the Mexican Bulldog - a small bottle of Corona inverted down into a margarita.

They also had a masa ball of dough that they said was a hit with children. Normally masa dough would be used for tortilla making, but they like to give some to children to play with like Playdoh.

We left with a gift bag which includes a voucher for a free meal on them. I'll take them up on it. Back in 2010 I went to a similar relaunch for Red Lobster. I really loved the changes Red Lobster had made and can feel good about many of the dishes they now serve. Here's hoping Chevys can do the same.
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