Restaurant Development & Design

September-October 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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5 4 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 FAZOLI'S TAKES THE NEXT STEP TOWARD REVIVAL PROJECT PROFILE A ny concept with with the staying power to last 27 years is going to experience some ups and downs. Fazoli's, an Italian fast-casual chain out of Lexington, Ky., is no different. According to Scott SirLouis, vice president of strategy and a 15-year veteran of the company, Fazoli's got off to a fast start after its founding in 1988, growing its store count and selling a good number of franchise stores. In the 2000s, though, the chain hit a rough spot, suffering from lower sales and stalled franchise growth. Fazoli's original owners ended up selling the chain in 2009 to private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which brought in new leadership tasked with turning the concept around. The first stage of this effort, says SirLouis, centered on revamping the chain's menu and improving customer service. Fazoli's rolled out new menu offerings and made its food artificial- ingredient-free, while service upgrades focused on after-sale customer care, such as table runners offering guests fresh-grated parmesan with their meals and returning frequently with unlimited fresh-baked garlic breadsticks. These efforts yielded positive financial results, but the chain needed to go further, says SirLouis. "We've spent the last eight years reinvigorating the brand from a menu and a service standpoint, but we felt like the facilities didn't match where we were taking the new Fazoli's," he explains. About three years ago, Fazoli's rolled out a new prototype. This effort, backed by another new owner, Sentinel Partners, concentrated most on the restaurant's exterior. The goal was to help drive sales by making Fazoli's stores more visible from the street. The chain developed a new logo and new signage, and the entrance was given a fun, walk-through that resembles a tomato. What's more, an exterior tower feature — part of the Fazoli's brand since day one — was given a new cap and new lighting that helps it stand out, particularly at night. The interior portion of the redesign at that time wasn't nearly so involved. While some fixtures and finishes were updated, the changes were more evolutionary than revolutionary. That just didn't go far enough, the company eventually concluded. "The results from those remodels were very strong, but we BY TOBY WEBER, Contributing Editor The chain has introduced multiple seating options and divider walls, creating different types of dining spaces to appeal to different types of customers. Photos courtesy of Fazoli's

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