Appetite for growth

Jeff Lobdell owns and operates 10
independent, nonfranchise or national chain restaurants. He currently has seven companies, but manages them all
under the umbrella name of Restaurant
Partners Inc.

Lobdell founded his first restaurant,
Bagel Beanery in
1996. The concept,
now with three locations, is a quick-service bagel bakery and
coffee shop with a
full line of breakfast
and deli sandwiches.

His other restaurants
— Beltline Bar’s Famous Mexican Café,
Sundance Grill, Boone’s Prime Time Pub
and the Omelette Shoppe — were started
by other restaurateurs and acquired,
improved and expanded by Lobdell and his

When the company acquires a restaurant,
it tries to make the transition as seamless
as possible. Lobdell tries to keep the existing staff intact as well as the bulk of the
product offerings on the menu. Changes
are gradual so existing guests aren’t alienated, yet physical improvements are made
to attract new consumers.

For example, the Beltline Bar recently
had its first down year in sales compared to
the previous year. Part of the reason was
the number of jobs lost in the area, and a
competitive national chain opened two
locations in the market.

Lobdell didn’t slash prices or slap up a
bunch of window stickers that cheapened the restaurant’s image. Instead,
he invested in interior and exterior
improvements that got the attention of
patrons and the local media. The news
stories on the upgrade drove more business to Beltline Bar.

Restaurant Partners Inc. has prospered
during poor economic times in Michigan
and while combating explosive growth
from national competitors.

HOW TO REACH: Restaurant Partners Inc., or (616) 235-8640