Food & Drink International - Fall 2017 - 46
TA Restaurant Group
Keep On Trucking
TA Restaurant Group continues to expand its food concepts and brands.
By Kat Zeman
TA Restaurant Group
Headquarters: Westlake, Ohio
John Ponczoch, senior VP of food
operations: "Since we franchise, we
understand the needs of the franchisee
and that allows us to be good at being
Francisco-based brand strategy and
design firm, to help with redesigning.
Currently, 16 Quaker locations are
TA-operated and 34 are franchised.
Truck Driver Havens
>> Quaker Steak & Lube is one of the concepts TA Restaurant Group manages throughout the United States.
t's relatively rare in the franchise
business. Most companies either
fall into the franchisor category
or they are the franchisee. But
Westlake, Ohio-based TA Restaurant
Group claims both titles.
"Since we franchise, we understand the needs of the franchisee and
that allows us to be good at being a
franchisor," says John Ponczoch, TA's
senior VP of food operations.
One of the largest restaurant franchisor/franchisee organizations in the
United States, TA Restaurant Group is
a division comprised of more than 850
food concepts that are affiliated with
TravelCenters of America LLC - a
Fortune 500 company that offers gasoline and diesel fueling, restaurants,
truck repair facilities and convenience
stores in 43 states and Canada.
The company's concepts include
256 travel center locations, branded
food & drink international * fall 2017 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com
TA and Petro Stopping Centers, almost 240 convenience stores under
the Minit Mart brand and 50 Quaker
Steak & Lube casual restaurants. TA
has spent millions on capital improvements for the Quaker Steak & Lube
chain, which it acquired in 2016.
It plans to spend millions more on
re-energizing the chain. Most of the
restaurants were built in the '80s and
'90s and are in need of upgrades.
"We want to make them more appealing," Ponczoch says. "If you look
at various restaurant concepts, they've
all gone through some sort of modernization. That's what we're trying to do.
It's an exciting brand and we can infuse it with an exciting design."
Redesign is expected to start early
next year and will include changes to
both the physical look of the Quaker
restaurants as well as to the overall
image. TA has hired Tesser, a San
Popular among professional truck
drivers, TA also owns and operates
the Country Pride and Iron Skillet
brands - known for offering a variety
of comfort food - at its travel centers.
For more than a decade, truck drivers
have voted the Iron Skillet as the best
restaurant on the interstate.
The restaurant is known for its
hand-cut steaks, hand-peeled mashed
potatoes and a plentiful buffet. Both
the Iron Skillet and Country Pride
concepts are franchised to various
travel center operators who manage
TravelCenters of America's TA or
Petro Stopping Center brands.
It's also at these travel centers
where TA is the franchisee of several
national food chains, which include
Black Bear Diner on the West Coast
and Fuddruckers and Bob Evans in
the Midwest. A new addition to the
family is Fazoli's, an Italian-American
casual restaurant chain based out of