Luby’s Restaurants Contacts Texas Agencies

ATLANTA Efforts to boost sales in its core market has led Luby’s Restaurants to reach out to a handful of Southwest agencies, sources said.

Laurie Shults, client marketing director, confirmed that a review is under way, but would not say how many agencies are involved or give a time frame.

Sources said the San Antonio-based cafeteria chain, which has seen its annual ad budget drop from a 1999 high of $8 million to less than $500,000 in 2002, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, is looking at midsize to large Texas agencies.

Anderson Advertising in San Antonio resigned the account in May 2000 when Luby’s awarded a creative project to the now defunct Center for Persuasive Arts. Since then, the client has run promotions touting its “Kid’s Program,” which features special meal deals for children.

The publicly traded chain once operated more than 220 restaurants across 10 states. In March, the company said that it was closing 30 stores and 20 additional locations within the next two years, leaving 140 remaining in its core Texas market. The closings are part of two-year plan aimed at returning Luby’s to profitability.

In 2001, Chris and Harris Pappas of Houston-based Pappas Restaurants bought into Luby’s. Chris Pappas is president and chief executive officer and brother Harris Pappas is chief operating officer. The pair own six percent of Luby’s.

Pappas Restaurants is a privately owned company with eateries in Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado and Georgia. Its properties include Pappas Seafood House, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappadeaux, Pappas Bar-B-Que and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse.