How Ted Turner expands his brand with Ted’s Montana Grill

Food for thought

The key to the chain’s success, though, is not only in choosing the right location, but in its employee education strategy.

“We started a centralized training facility in Atlanta,” McKerrow says. “It’s university style training … Typically, restaurants offer in-store training, with the new teaching the new. With our approach, we hope our people will grow into a culture of success — with high standards. We want to be leaders in the industry and to have a place where people can have fun and know they are respected. At the training facility, Ted can be there and I can be there more regularly and inspire these people.

“We hope our people will feel good about what they’re doing, work harder and be more successful. We’ve made a big investment in that university.”

The men recognize, however, that competition for your food dollar is a major factor. Restaurants are expected to generate $440.1 billion in sales this year — $1.2 billion a day — according to the National Restaurant Association’s industry forecast.

“Every restaurant is a competitor,” Turner says. “But no one has the niche that we do. We’ve got the authentic Old West motif, and we feature bison. We have all the other stuff, too. But we’ve got a niche and we’re all fresh. There are others that use fresh ingredients, but they’re all chef-driven and very expensive. At our price point, we’re the only restaurant I know of.”

After all, being unique, launching innovative products, is what has made Ted Turner a success since he introduced then-unheard-of around-the-clock news in 1980.

“At the end of the day, it’s this — we did try to create a niche,” says McKerrow. “That’s what I did with LongHorn Steakhouse. Just like what Ted did at CNN. It wasn’t that news wasn’t being broadcast, he just did it a different way.

“That’s what we’re doing here. We’re trying to do it a different way, and we’re trying to do it better than anyone else. That’s what we have in common. We both like to win, and we like to do things better than anyone else, and we’re driven to get that done.”

HOW TO REACH: Ted’s Montana Grill, (404) 266-1344 or www.tedsmontanagrill.com