Recent explosive growth has placed the only major Italian quick-service brand in the spotlight.

In a time when so many other restaurants have struggled, Fazoli’s has experienced record-setting growth in recent years.

“The great thing is that when we look back at the last two or three years, we’ve changed the brand forever,” says Doug Bostick, newly named president of Fazoli’s and its former senior vice president of operations and franchise development. “Hundreds of sales records have been broken in the last three years—by our individual operators, by franchise groups, by company operations, by the system. Five years ago, we were trying to make sure we were doing a system-wide average net revenue of $1.2 million, but now we’re at more than $1.5 million. We’ve made a huge leap.” 

Fazoli’s is the only major Italian quick-service restaurant franchise. “We’re very much in a white space, and we have been for 33 years,” Bostick says. “Other Italian concepts can’t match us on quality, value, or the diversity of our menu—and we have a drive thru, which is completely unique among our biggest competitors and has always set us apart.”

As people began staying at home more at the onset of COVID-19, they turned to affordable, easy options like Fazoli’s Family Meals and Super Family Meals rather than cooking yet again. The drive thru in every location allowed guests to order their food from the safety of their cars. “We’ve been able to provide exactly what guests are looking for, not only from a product standpoint but also in terms of service,” Bostick says.

Fazoli’s also started experimenting aggressively with new technology, introducing new equipment like self-contained fryers to expand menu options, testing artificial intelligence (AI) voice ordering in the drive thru, and evaluating kitchen technology to help support operations with labor challenges.

With locations mostly focused in the Midwest and southeastern U.S., the brand is looking to expand its presence in the southwest. Nine new locations were recently announced for Phoenix, with 20 across the country opening this year and about 150 potential new locations in the pipeline. “We’ve nearly doubled the number of our franchise groups over the last three years,” Bostick says. “People are recognizing that the brand is hot.”

Fazoli’s is looking for experienced franchisees who care deeply about the restaurant industry and who want to diversify their portfolio with a strongly differentiated brand. “You can tell when people are passionate about what they do, and that’s important,” Bostick says. “People also have to be involved in their businesses, especially in today’s world. We’re looking for multi-unit operators with engaged ownership—people with solid track records in other concepts. These are the individuals who tend to see the quickest successes.”

Franchisees can expect a high level of hands-on support from the brand. “With training, marketing, supply chain, operations—we’re with our new franchisees every step of the way. From open to well beyond, our support is ongoing. The relationships we’ve developed with our franchisees are invaluable and the true key to success,” Bostick says. “We encourage our new franchisees to reach out to our existing franchisees and let them tell you firsthand. We hear it over and over from our franchise community. No other concept provides the same level of support.”

Bostick and the Fazoli’s development team are holding a record number of Discovery Days, and the brand only continues to skyrocket. “There’s never been a better time to join the Fazoli’s family,” Bostick says. “Our next goal is to have 300 restaurants open, and we’re going to get there quickly. The sky is the limit.” 

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By Kara Phelps

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