SANTA MONICA, CA - Downloading "E-Rock" and "Wall-Rock" jukeboxes built by Rock-Ola Mfg. Co. and powered by Ecast technology are being placed in the fast-growing Fatburger chain, based here. In some cases, the new Ecast-powered "Bubbler" nostalgic jukebox, debuted by Rock-Ola at a Chicago restaurant show in late May, could also be deployed.
Operators will own and operate the machines, which will be floor models except in cases where space demands use of a wall box. Corporate-owned and franchised Fatburger restaurants will participate in the downloading music revenues through what is described as "a considerable percentage" negotiated by Fatburger North America, Inc. Fatburger officials said they were pleased to offer "this thoroughly modern convenience that so uniquely blends the old with the new."
The move represents the first chain-wide penetration of downloading jukeboxes into fast food establishments. The Fatburger chain now includes 54 units from California to Florida, but is expanding rapidly. In the past few months alone, Ecast officials said, Fatburger has sold 250 franchises in 14 states. Another 15 major cities or states are available for franchise. "That means a lot of operators will end up being involved," said Bob Cooney, Ecast's vice-president of marketing.
Fatburger executives selected Rock-Ola products as the exclusive downloading jukebox for the chain for several reasons. Ecast cited the versatility and attractiveness of the cabinet. RMC has created custom Fatburger graphics screens for jukeboxes that will be installed across the chain, said RMC president John Schultz.
Rock-Ola's historic name and classic image appear to have played a role in the selection, since these elements fit with Fatburger's theme and decor. Fatburger's management was reportedly impressed by the versatility and earnings power of the Ecast broadband network, now installed in more than 2,100 locations in 50 states, and its associated library of more than 150,000 songs.
Founded in 1952, Fatburger restaurants have always featured operator-run jukeboxes, but these units previously employed CD and 45-rpm technology. The possibility of chain-wide transition to downloading machines was triggered when Frontier Amusement (San Diego, CA), came to Ecast with the proposal. Frontier already operated jukes in local Fatburger stores. Negotiations among all parties followed and an agreement was reached this spring. As of May 24, officials said Fatburger had already installed 10 "E-Rocks" in all the Fatburger locations in three California cities (Irvine, Santa Monica and Corona) as well as Clearwater, FL, locations."Who would have thought that two old-time American companies like Fatburger, which has been around since 1952, and Rock-Ola, which was founded in 1927, would be among the first to usher the digital music revolution into the hamburger stand?" said RMC's Schultz. "We all worked very hard to make this project happen and we hope it is the first of many more to come."