Industry News | April 3, 2017 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

Fazoli's Joins the Clean-Menu Movement

The clean-food movement has added another major quick-service player to its ranks.

Italian fast casual Fazoli’s, a 220-unit brand located in 25 states, announced Monday that it will feature a completely clean food menu by June 19. Currently, 80 percent of the chain’s supply chain is free of artificial ingredients. Come mid-June, all artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, and colors will be gone.

The move, Fazoli’s says, will make the restaurant the third brand—and first under 1,000 units—to offer a clean menu, joining Panera Bread and Chipotle.

“Fazoli's is proud to take the lead among national brands under 1,000 locations to offer a completely clean food menu. We credit Panera and, recently, Chipotle in doing the same, and are surprised that other larger restaurant systems haven't done so as well," says Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli's. "We began this effort over a year ago with a commitment to our guests to deliver the best tasting, highest-quality food as possible—and going clean was the only option. They deserve to enjoy delicious, clean food and our size was not going to get in the way of us accomplishing this significant milestone."
Fazoli’s says the move cost more than $1.5 million. It worked with close to 50 suppliers to banish a total of 81 artificial ingredients, colors, and preservatives from its menu, an initiative Fazoli’s is calling “Naturally Italian.”

This includes removing calcium propionate, nitrates, and sodium benzoate from its proteins, salad dressings, and signature breadsticks, as well as artificial flavors, colors and high-fructose corn syrup from all desserts.

Fazoli’s adds that some favorites, such as unfilled pastas, its signature marinara sauce, and fresh salads, were already clean. The brand is also using pure cane sugar to offer fresh brewed tea with clean ingredients.

Coupled with the change on June 19, Fazoli’s will debut a new premium menu at its 122 company-owned locations. It expects the remaining 91 units, as well as new franchised locations, to adopt the upgraded menu by January 2018.

In addition to highlighting the clean ingredients, the new menu will focus on customization. Offerings such as tableside grated Parmesan, upgraded plateware, as well as “Create Your Own Lasagna, Spicy Sausage Rigatoni, and a Brownie Gelato Sundae will join the list.

Fazoli’s has reported 15 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth, leading to the remodeling of select locations with a contemporary look better suited for customer experience. This includes WiFi bars and communal dining tables.

Potential franchisees can also strike a deal through June 30. Those who ink multi-unit agreements for three or more locations will receive reduced franchise and royalty fees for the first two years of operations. A reduced franchise fee is also available for new multi-unit agreements for three or more non-traditional units, including college campuses, airports, and casinos.