In a state known for its world-famous barbeque, Cousin’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth, Texas has been wowing guests with hand-crafted, authentic “low-and-slow” Bar-B-Q comfort food since 1983. After successfully sharing their love of casual, family-style Bar-B-Q at four traditional street locations around Fort Worth, Cousin’s recently opened two new locations at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to share their legendary recipes with travelers from around the globe.
As an airport that strives to be cutting edge, DFW required the latest and greatest tech from its vendors. Cousin’s needed increased automation and the ability to seamlessly switch menu dayparts. The restaurant turned to WAND’s digital menu board technology to help it stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of busy airport travelers.
When you have a passion, you have to share it. That’s what Calvin (aka “Boots”) and Beverly Payne did 35 years ago when they opened their first Cousin’s restaurant. Fresh ingredients, hand-selected hardwoods for the perfect slow smoke flavor, and Texas-sized portions were the simple values that helped them grow to six locations today. They even earned the distinction of being one of the “Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas.”
At DFW, Cousin’s was challenged with attracting a very different type of guest. Their traditional street locations serve more families, even closing on Sundays. In these traditional settings, Cousin’s commonly dishes up large family platters of smoked meats and generous portions of mac’n’cheese or coleslaw to share. The airport locations, however, are open seven days a week and serve mostly single business travelers. The completely different makeup of their customer demographic meant that Cousin’s would have to rethink their menu and their marketing strategy.
In order for the two DFW locations to be a hit, Cousin’s needed menu marketing automation that would help transition seamlessly through dayparts – from 5 am to 9 pm daily – allowing them to offer a breakfast taco to the early bird crowd, or perhaps a late-night sausage link and beer to the flyer stuck in layover. And it would have to be visually appealing enough to grab the attention of luggage-toting travelers darting by. Among several menu items Cousin’s decided to highlight, their Big Urban Sandwich was one they figured to be an airport crowd pleaser.
Cousin’s knew without a doubt that digital menu board technology would be the way to go. After collaborating with WAND on everything from equipment to menu design to layout, the digital menus were installed at Cousin’s two new DFW airport locations: one at gate B12 that offers a mix of counter service, and a more cafeteria-style restaurant at gate B43.
Digital menu board technology would allow Cousin’s to easily switch between dayparts during longer business hours, helping employees transition and providing a consistent experience for guests.
Although Cousin’s two DFW airport locations have only been open for a few months, they noticed impressive results with digital menu boards almost immediately.
“In the second week, we had the DFW Airport Concessions Board in,” said Brandon Smith, Cousin’s Bar-B-Q Director of Sales, “They said [our boards] were the best-looking boards they had seen in the entire airport.”
The Big Urban Sandwich, which is the restaurant’s most expensive, and highest margin sandwich, saw a 661% sales increase, and the premium Smokehouse Salad sold 757% more with digital menu boards compared to static boards. Add-on purchases also had impressive increases with the banana pudding add-on up 40% and the sausage add-on up 292%.
“The Big Urban is a nice product for us,” said Smith “It’s the highest priced sandwich for us, and it gets two of our specialty proteins as well. You get our famous top-cut smoked brisket, and then you get a helping of hand-crafted jalapeno-cheddar sausage on that sandwich.”
In addition to this sales lift, Cousin’s has also experienced an increase in menu awareness and social media engagement. They are pleased to have seen more pictures of the Big Urban on social media in the last three months than in the last four years that they’ve had the sandwich on the menu.
Cousin’s has also been working with WAND’s Digital Agency team to catch the attention of travelers who rush by, especially at their B43 location. “A big goal for us was to draw people into our space [from the concourse],” said Smith “I really do think those front-facing digital menu boards we have are doing a better job than I would have anticipated at stopping people in their tracks. They literally just take a moment to glance, and then of course come into our space.”
The WAND digital menu solution not only helped Cousin’s achieve their goals of transforming their business to meet the requirements and challenges of the high-tech airport setting, it also helped to increase the sales and awareness of some of their highest-priced menu items.