Garden Fresh Restaurants

The Situation

  • 40-year-old California based soup and salad cafeteria chain operating 130 restaurants
  • Company faced declining sales due to ineffective marketing initiative, challenging labor costs from minimum wage increases and significant debt burden
  • In addition, Company had multiple internal operational issues such as outdated IT infrastructure, deferred maintenance, poor records worker’s compensation, supply chain inefficiency and demoralizing culture
  • Company filed for bankruptcy and emerged as new entity owned by senior lenders


  • CRO
  • Interim CEO
  • Interim CFO
  • Interim CMO
  • VP of supply chain

The Work

  • CR3 professionals were hired by new owners to develop a turnaround roadmap post-bankruptcy
  • CR3 designed a plan revolving around “save and reinvest” strategy, focusing on savings around operational improvements such as supply chain, store closures and overhead reductions, and reinvestment in initiatives to improve sales (menu improvements, new marketing initiatives with less reliance on discounting, focused capital expenditure and better prime cost management system)
  • New owners appointed CR3 to lead the company and implement the turnaround plan, taking roles as interim CEO, CFO, CMO and VP of Supply Chain
  • In addition, CR3 ushered new corporate culture focusing on collaboration and open communications

The Results

  • Established sustainable footprint consisting of core 97-unit chain
  • Stabilized sales through more disciplined marketing approach – resulting in positive guest counts for seven consecutive months after emerging from bankruptcy, reversing negative trends from prior two years
  • Supported the sale of the company to an investor group that included an affiliated company

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  • Restaurant
  • Interim Management

Engagement Team