Restaurant Chain Plans Expansion With New SVP

Bolstering the Ground Round Grill & Bar’s advertising efforts through franchisee programs is Ken Roffe’s main goal in his new position as svp, marketing at the Braintree, Mass.-based chain.

“We’re excited about developing a pool of creative our franchisees can pull from,” said Roffe, who took the position several weeks ago. Promotions, direct mail, print, TV and radio are all planned in the coming months.

Roffe has no plans to conduct an agency review; rather, he will likely continue working with various freelancers and small agencies on advertising projects, as the company has done in recent years.

One of these shops is Boulanger & Associates in Canton, Mass., which the chain tapped earlier this year for interactive efforts.

Ad spending of late has been low, with less than $1 million in 1999 and none reported in 2001 and the first six months of 2002, according to CMR.

Together with director of beverage operations Larry Varvella and director of marketing Christine Mawhinney, Roffe plans to work closely with Ground Round franchisees, developing a marketing template they can use and tailor to meet their individual restaurants’ needs.

The Ground Round operates about 130 stores in the Northeast and Midwest. The ad effort is part of a larger plan to expand the chain’s reach to a more national presence, making it better able to compete with other family-style casual-dining chains, such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and The 99 Restaurant and Pub.

Roffe will draw from his experience in the late 1980s as evp of Interpublic Group’s Lowe Marschalk, overseeing work for clients such as Ponderosa Steak Houses and Bob Evans Restaurants. At the Ground Round, Roffe reports to president Tom Russo, who had served as CEO of Ponderosa during Roffe’s tenure at Lowe.

Roffe joins the Ground Round from Roffe & Green, a Westport, Conn., marketing consultancy he founded in 1990. There, he worked with clients such as United Healthcare and Microcell Solutions.