All-Star Case Studies

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2019 Case Study - Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen


Company Background

The Macayo’s family-owned restaurant tradition began in 1946, when Woody and Victoria Johnson opened their first café in Phoenix. Today, Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen is an award-winning chain of 14 restaurants that ring up annual sales of $35 million. Its 1,200 employees have been playing The Great Game of Business since June 2008.

Great Game Solutions

In only 18 months, Macayo’s has rapidly changed from a centralized, top-down operation to one that embraces store-level leadership and accountability from the bottom-up. Company success is now driven by GMs and their business-savvy crews, who practice high-involvement planning and use scoreboards to help them boost sales, cut expenses, delight customers and improve business processes.

Smart, strategic communication is Macayo’s special ingredient. At weekly store Huddles, teams forecast their sales drivers (number of diners and bar patrons, average bills, promotions, service-related comments and so on) and analyze their main costs: labor, food, drink and breakage. They update the P&L on the spot, post results and develop weekly action plans to stay ahead of plan. Employees also collect and share best practices to encourage teamwork and reinforce the core values.

Wins, large and small, are celebrated daily. In 2009, Macayo’s played two chain-wide sales games (Summer Soda Shindig and Corporate Gift Cards) which brought in an additional $200K. In addition, dozens of creative, in-store Mini-Games have helped to shave costs and improve customer service, foot traffic, transactions, food quality and business literacy.

Macayo’s leaders say that implementing The Great Game of Business was a smart move: it provided the financial discipline and collaborative spirit the company needed to avoid a devastating loss in 2009. In a sector and region that has experienced countless bankruptcies, Macayo’s is, by most measures, outperforming the competition. 2010 is looking even brighter: a new, self-funding, performance-based bonus plan promises to keep the team fired up and focused on success


  • Sales: Fell by 11% in ’08 and by 9% in ’09. Those results were still better than the 12% to 15% losses experienced by competitors in the Metro Phoenix casual-dining sector.
  • Profit margin: Has dropped slightly since ’07, but remains healthier than local/regional trade benchmarks.
  • Business-literacy rate: Rising quickly thanks to training, weekly huddles and diligent scorekeeping.
  • Mini-Games: Two corporate games and dozens of in-store ones have helped to shave food/beverage costs and improve customer service, food quality, traffic and sales.


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