NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of the hottest restaurant initial public offerings of all-time may be making a return to a market that keeps on eating up new restaurant issues.
Boston Market, known as "Boston Chicken" back when it went public in November 1993, saw its shares more than double the day on its first day of trading to a split-adjusted $10.
At the time, Boston Chicken captured the minds of deep-pocketed investors for its unique concept of serving up large portions of rotisserie chicken and homey-feeling side dishes such as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
Back then, the quick-meal industry was mostly comprised of fast food chains such as McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (QSR) and Wendy's (WEN) dishing out simple burgers and French fries. Boston Market represented something different and quickly caught on with consumers.
Boston Market's shares went on to reach a high of $41 in December 1996. But amid missteps such as overly aggressive expansion and failing to anticipate competition from Costco (COST) and supermarkets selling cheap rotisserie chicken, Boston Market ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1998.
McDonald's bought the chain in 2000, didn't do much with it, and then sold it to private equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2007 as sales and profits declined.
Now with its operations on the mend and the appetite for restaurant stocks at fever pitch following the recent successful launches of companies such as Shake Shack (SHAK), Bojangles (BOJA) and El Pollo Loco (LOCO), Boston Market's backers may be seeking to return to the public markets.
Boston Market CEO George Michel didn't rule out the possibility in an interview with TheStreet, sounding like an executive readying to hit the road and promote the company's prospects.
"Right now we are focusing on our average unit volumes (AUVs) because it has an impact on return on investment," said Michel, adding the company is back to opening restaurants.
For a chain that now numbers 462 sites, Boston Market's average unit volumes are currently at $1.3 million, up from $1 million in 2010. The company is aiming for AUVs to average $1.5 million within a few years. By comparison, McDonald's AUVs are around $2.5 million, and Shake Shack expects to average around $3 million unit volumes for its stores this year, although with a much smaller number of locations.
Boston Market opened three new locations in 2014, and plans to introduce 10 more this year including several on Army bases. Execs are also looking to expand overseas, with 50 sites targeted in the Middle East.
Like many of today's most popular restaurant chains, Boston Market is promoting its use of "real" ingredients instead of artificial ingredients.
"None of our food is made in a factory with preservatives added and brought into our restaurants," said Michel. Boston Market's chicken is only kept in the restaurant for two hours, its vegetables are freshly cut and steamed, and cornbread is baked daily. Michel added "We are very focused on serving fresh-from-the-farm chicken with no hormones."
According to Michel, the company has also had success recently in a limited-time offering of oven-cooked pulled pork. Michel and his team are also looking at moving from cooking turkeys, which are currently prepared in ovens, to their rotisserie platform to enhance flavor.