Fazoli’s, America’s largest fast-casual Italian chain, announced that it has been named a Gold Stevie Award winner in the Company of the Year–Food and Beverage category in the 14th annual American Business Awards.

The American Business Awards are the premier business awards program in the U.S., with categories to recognize achievement in every facet of work life, including management, marketing, human resources, new products, and websites. More than 3,400 nominations were submitted this year and judged by more than 250 professionals, whose average scores determined the winners.

“We’re honored to win this award and it proves that it’s an exciting time to be a part of the Fazoli’s franchise family, following our sixth consecutive year of positive comp-sales growth,” says Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli’s. “Winning the Gold Stevie Award in the Company of the Year Food and Beverage category further fuels our desire to expand Fazoli’s presence nationwide so our customers can enjoy our savory, always fresh Italian food, and table-service no matter where they are.”

Fazoli’s strong performance, combined with an industry-leading new franchisee incentive program, continues to drive the brand’s expansion. With plans to open 12 new restaurants this year, Fazoli’s also recently opened in Montgomery, Alabama, and Macon, Georgia, where the company set an all time sale record for an opening week. The company is targeting new franchise development in markets including Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Knoxville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and several other markets to grow and further catapult the brand’s development nationwide.

New Fazoli’s 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. The incentives are available to franchisees who sign agreements now through July 31.

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