Fazoli’s, America’s largest premium Italian quick-service restaurant chain, is off to a running start in 2012 with record same-store sales growth in January.
Company units posted a 12.1 percent year-over-year increase, with franchisees reporting a 9.9 percent jump. It was Fazoli’s best January sales growth in its history.
This makes for the 19th straight month of sales improvement for franchised restaurants and the 18th continuous month for company locations. It follows the brand’s best quarter since 1999.
Both the franchisor and franchisees were especially proud of the month’s strong sales in light of the country’s continuing economic doldrums.
“It’s fantastic. If we can have the results we’re having in a down economy, we’re excited about what can happen when the economy really gets rolling,” says Rob Hearden, president of the Fazoli’s Franchise Association and operator of three units in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
“We are a very good value and a good fit right now,” Hearden says, adding that menu enhancements that began in 2010 and 2011 are responsible for the sales upturn.
Acknowledging that this year’s mild winter weather may deserve some credit for the good sales, Hearden said January’s performance is part of a long upward trend that he expects will continue year-round.
About 20 percent of franchisees have completed remodeling to a more contemporary design and have added service upgrades that include delivering meals to the dining room. Real plate ware and flatware have replaced disposable serving utensils. The remainder of the franchised units should have completed their conversions by the end of 2012, Hearden says.
Sales at upgraded units have been even higher than at those not yet upgraded, he notes.
Hearden, a franchisee for 10 years, also commended Carl Howard, president and CEO since 2008.
“He has done a great job spearheading Fazoli’s turnaround,” Hearden says.
Fazoli’s expects to open several new company and franchised restaurants this year, including its first travel center, set to open this spring in Fairmont, W. VA.
Founded in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1988, Fazoli’s, now operating in more than 215 locations, was acquired by Sun Capital Partners in 2006.