Industry News | July 1, 2009

Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen Opens in a Hurry on Florida Turnpike

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Villa Enterprises Management, a multi-concept quick-serve franchisor, recently opened three new Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen franchises on the Florida Turnpike with its newest multi-unit operator, international foodservice company Áreas. A fourth Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen location on the Florida Turnpike is expected to open next month.

The new proprietors had just seven hours to complete a significant redesign of three former Sbarro units and transform them all into Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen franchises in time for re-opening the next day.

"We couldn't have been more pleased when the arrangements were reached with Áreas, a leading international franchisee, and now Villa's newest multi-unit operator," says Nick Valavanis, VP of franchise operations for Villa. "But it meant that our team had less than nine weeks of intense planning to make this do-or-die transition happen—to get open three new stores literally overnight. We could not take the stores over until 12:01 am on Wednesday, June 3, and had to be re-opened by 7:00 a.m. the same day for business."

Villa used its team in Florida, along with local units, to prepare products in advance for distribution across the three newest Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen locations. Beginning at midnight on June 3, construction teams started their work on the redesign while the operations team unloaded all the essentials—equipment, food, smallwares, etc.—organized the facilities, set up the lines, and prepared products for serving the next day.

"This was a very exciting experience, to say the least,” Valavanis says. “It took an almost superhuman company-wide effort to pull off and I couldn't be more proud to work with people who make something like this happen.”

The three new Villa Fresh Italian Kitchens are located along the Florida Turnpike at the Turkey Lake Travel Plaza (mile marker 263, near Orlando), the Ft. Pierce Travel Plaza (mile marker 144, near Port St. Lucie), and the Pompano Travel Plaza (mile marker 65, near Pompano Beach.) The fourth location will be opening up in the Fort Drum Travel Plaza, about 45 miles north of Port St Lucie.

"The Florida Turnpike project is a great win for Villa Enterprises and provides us with excellent exposure on one of the busiest turnpikes in the nation,” Valavanis says.

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