Fresh To Order, the pioneer of “fast fine,” a newly identified segment in foodservice, continues its growth surge with the opening of its seventh unit at the Emory Point Mixed-Use Development, located across from the Centers for Disease Control and nearby Emory University in Atlanta.

The new 2,800-square-foot restaurant, which features an additional 500-square-foot outdoor patio, will serve as the prototype for future units.

Fresh To Order (f2o) has been widely embraced by loyal and new customers alike since it opened its first unit almost seven years ago in Atlanta. It recently signed an eight-restaurant deal in Orlando, Florida, and is set to break ground on the first Florida unit later this year.

The new prototype enhances f2o’s design elements, including new storefront and interior signage that includes its “” tagline, variable seating configurations, softer interior colors, and interesting textures, all with a nod toward delivering on its mission to provide an environment that is consistent with its food.

These elements reinforce f2o’s “fast-fine” positioning, which has the look and feel of a fine casual-dining establishment with a full bar service to attract even more of the dinner crowds.

Located on a corner end-cap space, the 20-seat patio is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset and an unobstructed view of the Atlanta skyline.

Founder and CEO Pierre Panos, a veteran fine-dining restaurateur, began franchising Fresh To Order in 2010 and expects to grow his Atlanta-based chain to 50 restaurants, with 50 more in some stage of development over the next five years.

Panos, who instilled f2o with upgraded levels of service, superior sourcing, and ingredients, is convinced that “fast fine,” is quickly going to move to the forefront of the highly competitive restaurant industry.

“This is a new niche, which is two steps above fast casual when it comes to the quality of products and service,” he says. “We are bringing really fresh, really fine, really fast, and delicious food to our guests.”

The dining concept combines the quality of food found in fine-dining restaurants with the operating platform and price point of the fast-casual segment.

Its chef-inspired menu reflects bold flavors like the Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Grilled Salmon with Black Bean Orange Sauce, and a host of gluten-free dishes. 

Other items  include a Salmon Panini with a Roasted Corn Relish and Tarragon Aioli; a Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles, Strawberries, and Seasonal Fruit; and a Bourbon Filet with Balsamic Cabernet Reduction and Garlic Jack Grit Cake.

“Fresh to Order offers flame-grilled, cooked-to-order, fine dining–quality food in an inviting, warm, and energetic atmosphere at a $10 price range, all in a 10-minute wait time,” Panos says. “It is truly the next evolution in the exciting and rapidly growing, fast-casual dining segment.”  

One of f2o’s strengths is with the dinner crowd, pulling in 40 percent of sales during that daypart, which traditionally has proved challenging for fast-casual concepts.

“The menu is so unique and diverse that many of our customers come back several times a week without having to eat the same thing twice,” Panos says. “Our guests are enjoying our diverse offerings both at lunch and dinner, sometimes over business meetings, and at other times just kicking back with family and friends.”

Fresh To Order is actively pursuing franchisees in the southern states of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and the Carolinas. This year, f2o will open up markets in states in the mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest.

The Emory area location is the third location for franchisees Narendra and Jayen Patel, who also have units at Johns Creek and in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Additionally, Atlanta-based Concessions International, owned by businessman and long-time restaurateur Herman J. Russell, is in the final stages of completing its development of the Atlanta airport location.

These two newest locations are the seventh and eighth for the brand.

Prior to the launch of f2o, Panos worked on the menu for about a year, teaming up with Jesse Gideon, former chef at Stoney River Legendary Steaks, before opening the first unit in Midtown Atlanta.

Panos, who founded Stoney River Legendary Steaks in 1996, which he sold to Nashville, Tennessee–based O’Charley’s Inc. in 2000, also owns Brookwood Grill in Roswell, Georgia, as well as 41 Papa John’s restaurants in four states as part of his holding company QS America.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Design, Fast Casual, Growth, Menu Innovations, News, Fresh to Order