Fast-casual restaurant leader Fazoli’s, riding a five-year same-store sales growth streak, is taking its story on the road, part of an aggressive franchise recruitment program.
Fazoli’s, already the nation’s largest Italian fast-casual chain, is hosting free open houses throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The first is January 26 in Toledo, Ohio. Others will be in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Fazoli’s was acquired last year by Sentinel Capital Partners, which put the brand on the franchising fast track. Under its current incentive program, new franchisees are eligible for discounts of up to $20,000 off the initial $30,000 franchise fee. Royalties have been cut to 2 percent from 4 percent for the first year, and to 3 percent for the second year. Vendor fees also will be discounted for the first 12 months.
“If ever there was a time to be a Fazoli’s franchisee, it is now,” says president and CEO Carl Howard. “We’re outperforming the industry in sales per unit and we are extremely well positioned for today’s economy.”
In the last few years, Fazoli’s has laid the groundwork for franchise expansion with a premium menu that serves casual dining quality food at quick-service prices, the use of real plates and silverware, and dining room service that includes meal delivery and table clearing. To further spur franchise development, the chain is introducing a new round of menu updates, and has a new prototype under construction. Franchisee support has been increased with the hiring of a real estate director and the addition of the Buxton Group to assist with site selection. Fazoli’s also is embarking on a major technology overhaul, including new POS and mobile ordering systems.
It is seeking experienced operators looking for a new brand to add to their portfolios, as well as executives from large chains who want to run their own restaurants. Additional target markets include, but are not limited to, Charlotte, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Detroit; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Phoenix, Arizona.
Ultimately, though, it’s all about that luscious fried chicken, and today’s customer wants to know what she’s feeding her family. A prominent chalkboard will be updated daily, by hand, with the name of the farm that raised that day’s meal.
With approximately 220 restaurants, Fazoli’s is America’s largest Italian fast-casual chain, serving freshly prepared entrées, Submarinos sandwiches, salads, and pizza.