Fazoli's announced this year's Franchisee of the Year during its annual conference held in Cancun, Mexico, on October 24 to 25. In addition, the company named its General Managers of the Year from two of its top-performing corporate and franchised restaurants.

This year's Franchisee of the Year recipient, Bob Sirkis, who owns the Fazoli's of Valdosta, Georgia, was honored for achieving sales growth of 7.8 percent, including an annual guest increase of 8.4 percent. For the last 15 years, he and his wife Kendall have been franchise partners of Fazoli's. Before becoming a franchisee, Sirkis was vice president of new concept development at Fazoli's founding parent company in the late 1980s. Over the last five years, Sirkis has increased his restaurant's sales by 52 percent and will open an additional location in Dothan, Alabama in 2017. Earlier this year, he was named one of CNBC's 50 Big Franchise Success Stories.

"We are proud to honor Bob Sirkis for his strong restaurant performance and commitment to the Fazoli's brand," says Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli's. "Bob and his team's passion for operational excellence is a shining example of the strength of the Fazoli's business model. As our network continues to expand, we are focused on partnering with likeminded entrepreneurs who want to be successful in carrying out our company mission and reaching their fullest potential."

At the conference, Fazoli's also named its corporate and franchise General Managers of the Year. Kim Fraser, senior general manager and longtime employee of the corporate owned Fazoli's in Edwardsville, Illinois, was honored for her consistency in delivering strong sales results. At the franchise level, Jonathan Earl of FazWest, LLC, in Springfield, Missouri, was recognized for his contributions to one of the company's top-performing franchised locations and building lucrative revenue streams through drive-thru and off-premise catering sales. Furthermore, Fazoli's named Tyson Foods its Supplier of the Year for its significant impact on enhancing the brand's operations and providing excellent customer service for more than 20 years.

In 2011, Fazoli's underwent a major brand overhaul with the introduction of real plateware and silverware in lieu of foam plates and plastic cutlery. As part of the brand refresh, earlier this year, Fazoli's began remodeling some of its locations with a new, contemporary look and feel. In addition, the company introduced an upgraded menu using premium ingredients, which has been well received by guests. This, coupled with the company's strong performance, continues to drive its expansion. To further catapult the brand's development nationwide, Fazoli's is targeting new markets for expansion including Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Knoxville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and several other cities.

With nearly 220 restaurants in 24 states, Fazoli's is America's largest Italian fast casual chain, serving freshly prepared entrees, Submarinos sandwiches, salads, and pizza. Fazoli's franchisees are experiencing record sales growth, and the company is currently seeking single- and multi-unit operators to join the brand's rapid expansion.

Fast Casual, Franchising, News, Fazoli's