Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation, best known for its full-service Uno Chicago Grill, is doubling down on its fast-casual game with the launch of a new brand meant to compliment existing Uno Due Go restaurants. Uno fresco, which opened its first location in Stoneham, Massachusetts, is the suburban-friendly fast casual that builds on Uno Due Go’s style of service with an amped up dinner menu and family-oriented environment.
“We were looking for a concept to resonate with the suburban consumer, and we’re seeing the fast-casual model rise in popularity,” says Chris Westcott, vice president of Uno fresco. “We have a strong foothold in full-service casual dining, but we feel the consumer is moving towards upscale fast casual. They’re looking for great quality and a great environment, but they’re looking for the speed of service and they’re looking for the value. They’re not looking for the trappings of full service and the tipping that goes with it.”
The new suburban restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and, unlike Uno Due Go, offers craft beer and wine on tap. The menu includes Uno’s signature deep dish pizzas, a build-your-own salad bar with more than 40 ingredients, grilled panini sandwiches, entrée and pasta dishes, and small plate items available for snacking or to go. Westcott says Uno fresco was borne out of Uno Due Go’s success in the urban environment and company executives saw potential to adapt the fast-casual model to suit different demographics. One key element to that adaptation was the design. Where Uno Due Go sees many morning customers and commuters, Uno fresco had to serve the dinner daypart, and being able to change the vibe between lunch and dinner was vital.
“The environment is very comfortable for dinner; it’s darker-toned woods with interesting lighting,” Westcott says. “Music is very important to us so we can downshift and change it up between lunch and dinner. People can use us as a date-night destination or be comfortable coming in with their kids.”
Just two and a half weeks in, Uno fresco is resonating well with its suburban consumers, he adds. The executive team has plans to open more units and ready the concept for franchising.
By Tamara Omazic