When you start with quality, USDA Choice, native beef from a select purveyor such as Davis Creeks, use top-secret specifications and time-tested aging techniques, and top it all off with melted garlic butter, you’ve got the perfect sirloin, right? Not if you’re the Brann brothers of Brann’s Steakhouse and Sports Grille. Tom, Mike, and Johnny Brann never stop searching for better ways to serve their customers. It’s in their genes.
It all started in 1960, when their dad, John Sr., opened the first John Brann’s Steakhouse in Grand Rapids, Mich.. This is where the famous 8 oz. “Sizzling Steak” made its name, and the concept of a family restaurant serving great-tasting steaks at affordable prices, caught on. Soon, John Sr. was serving 800 to 1,000 meals on a Saturday night. Expansion was imminent. Today, the restaurant chain has 10 different locations across Michigan. Its success is built upon a drive to improve.
Adding more flavor to the chain’s already popular “Sizzling Steak” was a challenge. Brann’s originally tried using a tumbler at its supplier’s location, and the meat then was packaged as an additional step. The taste was off-flavor, the experiment a failure.
Determined to succeed, Tom and Mike began testing a Hollymatic HVT 30 Vacuum Tumbler right on premise in their kitchen. The Hollymatic machine takes up very little space on the counter and is easy to operate. Using butter, special seasonings, and water, Brann’s Steakhouse developed a recipe that worked exceptionally well with the HVT 30. The tumbler opens up the pores of the meat, slightly tenderizing and infusing the flavorings. Because the process takes place right at the restaurant, there is no need for special packaging. The steaks go straight from tumbler to grill for a fresher approach.
Mike worked closely on the front lines, monitoring testing for two months. “With the Hollymatic Vacuum Tumbler, we found that the steaks hold juices better, cook better on the grill [and] don’t shrink up as much, so we get better yields — and our customers have taken notice,” says Mike. “We tumble for 15 minutes. That’s all it takes. All 10 of our restaurants are now equipped with Hollymatic Tumblers. This piece of equipment guarantees consistent flavoring, too, for every single steak we serve.”
Brann’s Steakhouse and Sports Grille takes its “Sizzling Steaks” very seriously, as they should. The steak entrée represents 43% of the chain’s overall sales. Management considers anything that might enhance its popularity.
“The restaurant business, as everyone knows, is tough,” says Tom. “To add another cost to our operations, well, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t see a value in it. Adding Hollymatic’s Vacuum Tumblers to our operations was well worth the investment. The steaks are incredibly delicious.
“Sometimes it’s not about saving money,” Tom concludes. “It’s about putting a better product on the table. And that’s what we believe in at Brann’s Steakhouse and Sports Grille.”
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The October 2016 issue of The National Provisioner features our cover story on 25 icons from the past 25 years of the meat and poultry industry, our annual State of the Industry reports, and much more.