Middle Eastern restaurants and gyro stands have been culinary staples for decades, but unlike Mexican or Italian food, they've never really made it to the American mainstream. Today, a new crop of fast-casual concepts like Gyroville are feeding the growing consumer demand for the healthful and wide-ranging cuisines of the Mediterranean region.
Rooted in Greek heritage with what founder Lambros Kokkinelis calls a “high-quality, healthy and modern twist,” the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based chain recently announced plans to expand its national footprint with as many as 30 new restaurants over the next five years. Targeted markets include Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, among others.
There are currently nine restaurants open and operating throughout Florida and Kansas, and a tenth location in Ecuador.
“For some time now, everyone from the American Heart Association to Dr. Oz have lauded the Mediterranean diet as one of the most healthful ways to eat. Add to that a generation of more adventurous palates and the rise of fast-casual, and the market is ripe for concepts like Gyroville,” said Kokkinelis, a classically-trained chef who grew up in New York City working in diners operated by his Greek family. “We pride our self as a healthy food destination and look forward to meeting the increasing popularity of the clean eating lifestyle across the country.”
Pronounced just like the word looks, rather than the Greek pronunciation, which is more like yee-roh, Gyroville provides an interactive, build-your-own concept that allows guests to follow their choice of protein from the grill or vertical spit and served in a pita, over rice, as a wrap or salad.
There are various protein choices from which to choose, including gyro meat, chicken breast, spicy chicken thighs and homemade falafel. All the meat served is certified Halal. Freshly chopped romaine lettuce, plum tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, and onions are among the many condiments which can be added to the food. Next comes the modern twist on traditional Greek restaurant cuisine. Customers can choose a traditional yogurt, cucumber tzatziki sauce or become more adventurous with a Jalapeno Spinach, Mediterranean Mustard or Feta version.
“We're disrupting the fast casual scene and proving that the build-your-own style concept can be fresh, unique and flavorful,” said Kokkinelis. “We're constantly innovating and showing the versatility of our menu, and both consumers and franchise investors have taken notice. Our franchise has really taken off over the past year and the future is nothing but bright.”
The expansion will be achieved through both multi-unit operators and owner-operators, with the restaurants featuring Gyroville’s new store design, characterized by a cleaner, crisp look and feel that is synonymous with the brand's updated logo and color scheme, which includes shades of green and neutral colors as well as a blue accent. All light fixtures and furniture have also been updated to reflect the new branding. “The new prototype is sleek and modern. It truly embodies our 'live fresh' mentality,” added Kokkinelis.
Including a franchise fee of $9,995 (one of the lowest of any fast-casual concept), the estimated total investment to open a Gyroville franchise is between $250,000 and $475,000