GOLDEN, Colo. -- Boston Chicken here has picked Charlotte, N.C., as the test site for the extension of its home-meal replacement line, expected to begin by mid-August.
The first products introduced in the test will be meal-sized salads, chilled sandwiches, chilled desserts and ready-to-heat entrees produced by Harry's Farmers Markets, Roswell, Ga., in which Boston Chicken affiliate Progressive Food Concepts invested $23 million last February.
Boston Chicken executives picked Charlotte because it is a "representative market for us in terms of size and sales," said Karen Rugen, company spokeswoman.
Other factors include the quality of operations of stores there, the area's manageability as a test market and its proximity to Harry's meals production commissary in Georgia. The chilled items will be Boston Market branded.
Boston Markets in the area also experience little seasonal sales fluctuations, said Rugen.
"We think this is an enormous opportunity, and we're going to do the test to see how it will affect sales and impact store complexity," said Rugen. The company offered few details on menu, pricing, design and number of items to be tested.
The test will not repackage Boston Market food as ready to eat. Chilled sandwiches will differ from Boston Carvers, and the salad line will extend into meals, perhaps including chicken Caesar, chicken salad and tuna salad.
The tests are designed to resolve how Boston Chicken will incorporate new items into its product mix and determine how the new products will affect service.