If it’s been a few weeks since you’ve stopped by a Newk’s Eatery, you may be surprised to find the dining room has a new look.
Starburst light fixtures hang over tufted booths. Retro style chairs provide comfortable seating, hardwood accents lend a handsome air and even the beverage station shows off what looks like a marble countertop.
Inspirational artwork that reads “Laughter is brightest where Food is Best,” “Real Food Prepared from Scratch Changes Everything” and “Those That Dine Together Share More Than a Meal” has replaced the oversized abstract paintings that once graced the walls.
Chris Newcomb, CEO of Newk’s Eatery, and daughter Madison Newcomb celebrate renovations of the Jackson area locations of Newk’s. (Photo: Tate K. Nations)
Newk’s still features an open kitchen so that diners can see everything that goes into their meals, but now the soffit over the kitchen area is painted red and showcases the message, “Our Kitchen is an Open Book,” as well as fun facts about the ingredients and preparation methods.
Stacey Williams of Madison recently admired the updated style while she ate dinner with her husband, Thad Williams, and sons, Nash Williams and Knox Williams, at Newk’s on Lake Harbour Drive in Ridgeland.
“It looks more modern with the white (walls),” she said. “I like the new light fixtures.”
Hannah and Joseph Smith of Ridgeland also noticed the changes while they dined at Newk’s in Ridgeland.
“I think it looks good,” said Hannah Smith. “It’s refreshed.”
Stacey Williams of Madison, left, dines with sons, Nash Williams and Knox Wiliams, and her husband, Thad Williams, at Newk’s Eatery on Lake Harbour Drive in Ridgeland, which recently had its dining room updated for a new look. (Photo: Nell Luter Floyd/For Clarion Ledger)
Each of the seven Newk’s locations in the metro area – the two in Ridgeland and one each in Brandon, Byram, Clinton, Flowood and Jackson – sports the lighter, more contemporary interior design.
“We took guest feedback into consideration to make these changes to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary and elevate the brand for the next 15 years,” said Kevin Anderson of Madison, vice president of company operations for Newk’s.
Plans are to roll out the new look in stages for both company and franchise locations, he said.
Rachael Myrick, director of design for Newk’s, coordinated the remodeling of the restaurants with construction crews so that the work could be done without interrupting service during the day.
“We closed down at 9 p.m. and got it all done at night,” Anderson said. “The crews worked from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.”
The renovation also introduced signage and elements to inform diners about Newk’s history, its emphasis on striving to make a difference for diners every day and its philanthropy. “We want to connect with our guests about how hard we work, how fresh our food is and about the Newk’s Cares Initiative,” Anderson said.
Matt DeVoss of Madison, left, eats dinner with his sons, Karcher DeVoss and Meritt DeVoss, in the newly renovated Newk’s on Lake Harbour Drive. The inspirational artwork on the wall is new. (Photo: Nell Luter Floyd/For Clarion Ledger)
A television monitor is in place in each restaurant to play a brand video that tells the story of Newk’s, which was founded in 2004 in Oxford by Chris Newcomb, his father, Don Newcomb, and Debra Bryson, the same team that began McAlister’s Deli.
A teal-colored mosaic tile wall at each restaurant weaves in the story of the Newk’s Cares initiative and efforts to raise awareness and money to support ovarian cancer research.
Lori Newcomb, wife of Chris Newcomb, CEO of Newk’s, was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in February 2013 and launched Newk’s Cares in 2014. She died at age 49 on Feb. 28, 2019, but Newk’s Cares continues her mission to help women affected by the disease. To date, Newk’s Cares has raised more than $1.4 million to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.
“One of my favorite parts is the teal wall because of the Newk’s Cares Initiative,” Anderson said. “It’s a big piece of who we are. It hit close to home with Lori Newcomb.”
Response from diners about the updates has been positive, Anderson said. “it’s been like, “Wow!”’ he said, expressing a common reaction.
Grant Vance of Flowood, who is Newk’s area director for Ridgeland, said the renovation gives the dining rooms an upscale feel that’s appropriate for the fast-casual restaurant known for using wholesome ingredients to create scratch-made meals.
“I’ve worked in full service before Newk’s and thought they prepped a lot (of ingredients) but Newk’s does it better,” he said. More than 50 fresh ingredients are prepared daily for salads, sandwiches and pizzas and other items on the menu.
Vance, a Newk’s employee for 10 and a half years, started as a student at Belhaven University, moved up to become a restaurant manager in Ridgeland and now supports the work of general managers at Newk’s locations in Flowood, Jackson and Ridgeland.
“The team at Newk’s cares so much and really helps you to get where you want to go,” Vance said. “I feel very grateful.”
Dining rooms at Newk’s Eateries in the Jackson area include new signage about the Newk’s Cares Initiative and modern light fixtures. (Photo: Nell Luter Floyd/For Clarion Ledger)
Based in Jackson, Newk’s operates and franchises 120+ restaurants in 16 states. Private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners bought Newk’s Holding Co. in 2014 for an undisclosed amount, identifying the chain’s opportunity for growth as a driving factor in the decision to acquire the company.
In 2019, Newk’s Eatery has ranked in Nation’s Restaurant News Top 200 Countdown, as well as Restaurant Business’ Top 500 Chains. Newk’s has also been selected as a Top Food Franchise by Entrepreneur and is ranked among the Best Franchise Deals by QSR.
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