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Homework case 4 311

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CASE 4 —Molly’s Home Cooking

Molly’s Home Cooking, a regional restaurant with locations in three small Southern towns, one

of which is a college town, specializes in comfort foods and regional specialties. Two of the

restaurants have been open for over five years. The Molly’s located in the college town opened

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in May 2018. The restaurants are either freestanding near other businesses or in a strip

shopping/eating area. With a menu consisting of all fresh, cooked-to-order foods, Molly’s

features different items daily and serves traditional Southern desserts. Some of the menu items

include meatloaf, turkey cranberry salad, specialty sandwiches, salad options, barbecued beef,

and fresh pecan pie. While open for lunch and dinner daily, Molly’s also offers breakfast,

featuring homemade biscuits, on weekends. On the drink menu, customers will find tea,

coffee, soda, and water. A couple of beers and wines are on the menu, but Molly’s does not

want to be thought of as a bar. The restaurant also caters special events such as weddings and

business lunches and sells boxed meals (barbecue) that feed four to six people for outdoor

events such as tailgates.

Menu items are reasonably priced, but are more expensive than many fast food restaurants,

while less expensive than most “sit down” restaurants. Each restaurant has the same setup,

where customers place and pay for their orders at the front counter and then get glasses for

drinks. They fill their own drinks and get their silverware and napkins at the back of the

restaurant. Customers select their own tables and servers bring food to the table. If ordered,

desserts are brought to the table at the end of the meal so that it may be served hot and with

ice cream or whipped cream, if preferred. Customers may add desserts at the end of the meal

and pay at the counter when finished eating. If customers prefer take-out orders, they may call

in advance and pick up the order. Servers let them know how long it will take for the order to

be ready.

Prior to opening a restaurant, the owners have a week of “test and training” days where they

invite people from local communities for lunch or dinner. For example, they may offer local

businesspeople a free lunch or invite owners from other surrounding businesses to bring their

families. For the Molly’s in the college town, the owners and employees extended lunch

invitations to several faculty, staff, and students and asked them each to invite a few guests.

Molly’s wants to introduce members from each target market to the delicious foods on their

menus. Not only does this strategy generate brand awareness, but it also creates word-of-

mouth and positive public relations.

With regard to promotion, Molly’s Home Cooking, like many other small businesses, has a

limited promotion budget. They use social media, primarily Facebook, where they promote

daily specials. For the restaurant located in the college town (about a mile from campus),

Molly’s placed an advertisement in the university’s student newspaper early in the fall

semester. They also placed signs in front of the restaurant to attract visitors.

Molly’s has many repeat customers at each established restaurant. Those restaurants also

attract consumers who are traveling or sightseeing in nearby areas. The newest Molly’s in the

college town opened right before the majority of students went home for summer internships.

Many faculty do not teach in the summer, so the town becomes very quiet during the summer

months. Molly’s Home Cooking wants to increase awareness, get more repeat customers, and

increase profits.


1. For Molly’s Home Cooking in the college town, what promotion strategies do you
recommend to attract faculty, staff, and students from the university?

2. Without spending much on promotion or changing menu prices, how can Molly’s
generate loyal customers in established markets and in the college town?

3. Other than running one ad in the student newspaper, Molly’s has the same set-up,
menus, prices, and promotion (Facebook page) in each market. Given that Molly’s has
a very limited budget, should the restaurant change anything for different target
markets (e.g. travelers, families, local businesses, college population)?

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