Fazoli’s announced that as part of its growth strategy and push into nontraditional locations, it will open its first Walmart location on February 15.
The newest Fazoli’s will be christened with grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Walmart Supercenter at 3270 Telegraph Road in St. Louis.
Carl Howard, CEO of Fazoli’s, says the brand is through its “fix and repair” stages and that the Walmart unit marks the beginning of its “growth mode.”
“This year we’ll be more focused on growth, and Walmart is a very unique opportunity and one that we feel very privileged to be involved with,” Howard says. “Not many brands are inside a Walmart.”
St. Louis was also the site of several store renovations Fazoli’s introduced last year as it reinvented its brand identity. Now that the new identity has largely been established, the push for growth will include new stores as well as a dive into nontraditional locations such as airports, college campuses, and potentially more Walmarts, Howard says.
“Once you start getting one or two [nontraditional units] going, then dominoes really start to fall,” he says. “You get in there, break through the clutter, get your brand noticed, and once that happens, if you’re successful, then many other doors will open.”
The Walmart deal was initiated by Fazoli’s, Howard says, because the customer demographics of the two companies were compatible. “Our consumer profiles are very close,” he says. “The consumer makeup of Walmart and the consumer makeup of Fazoli’s are almost identical.”
The Walmart Fazoli’s will not stray very far from a traditional Fazoli’s, Howard says. Aside from a few less menu items, wider order areas for shopping carts to pass through, and a grab-and-go, heat-and-serve food section, the new Fazoli’s will be recognizable to the brand’s regular customers.
Howard says that if the first Walmart unit is successful and if Walmart representatives are pleased with its performance, Fazoli’s will pursue additional Walmart locations.
“We’re trying to find a way to grow the brand, and if this is a cost-affective way to grow the brand, and a profitable way to grow the brand, it would be a strategy for us to seriously consider,” Howard says.
“They’re building a lot of Walmarts, they have some openings in existing locations, it doesn’t cost us quite what it would in a traditional location to enter, [and] it would be an opportunity down the road potentially even for franchisees to develop out of market.”
By Sam Oches