In this Franchise Chatter Q&A, we get to learn more about Fazoli’s from its CEO, Carl Howard.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your background.
Carl Howard (CH): I was recruited by Sun Capital Partners to be the president and chief executive officer of Fazoli’s Restaurants, Inc. in June 2008. Since then, I have diligently worked to rebrand and revitalize the Fazoli’s “Fast Fresh Italian” concept. Since I joined Fazoli’s, every sales and EBITDA record has been posted and the brand is rapidly growing new units.
I have over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including leading brands like bd’s Mongolian Grille and Damon’s to financial success in their respective industry segments.
FC: Tell us more about Fazoli’s. How many locations are there nationwide?
CH: Fazoli’s is America’s largest fast-casual Italian chain with nearly 220 restaurants in 24 states. At Fazoli’s, we pride ourselves on empowering togetherness for friends and family through our fresh food and welcoming atmosphere.
We are expecting momentous growth in 2016, and are eager to bring the restaurant to more communities across the country.
FC: What can guests expect from the Fazoli’s menu?
CH: Fazoli’s serves freshly-prepared pasta entrees, Submarinos® sandwiches, salads and pizza, all made-to-order with quality ingredients – chicken is roasted in-house, mozzarella and provolone are fresh and never frozen, breadsticks are baked fresh, strawberries and apples are sliced fresh for our seasonal salads, with each dish created to order to ensure we are exceeding the customer’s expectation.
FC: What makes Fazoli’s a great franchise opportunity?
CH: We stand out in the marketplace as a unique brand that offers a real Italian dining experience for hardworking people who want a break from ordinary fast food, but without spending more. Our unique “value fast-casual” positioning has our franchisees enjoying record sales with over 12 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth.
We offer flexible footprint with in-line, freestanding, and conversion options and have received several accolades as a top ranked fast-casual franchise.
FC: How did you turn Fazoli’s into a thriving fast-casual restaurant brand since coming on as CEO?
CH: Since joining Fazoli’s as chief executive officer back in 2008, I’ve spearheaded the company’s turnaround and engineered a brand evolution to make Fazoli’s the thriving fast-casual restaurant it is today.
My goals and standards are to always focus on service and quality and not price. We continue to improve our core products and recently updated our menu again, increasing quality of ingredients and made-to-order options like the Primo Submarinos, giving customers the flexibility to create dishes catered to their personal preference.
In 2011, we refreshed all of our facilities, and earlier this year we started to remodel some of our locations to bring a contemporary look and feel to all of our guests. Introducing real plateware and silverware in lieu of foam plates and plastic cutlery is another way we’ve stayed ahead of other fast-food competitors.
Thanks to our impressive brand overhaul, Fazoli’s was recently recognized with a Gold Stevie Award as Food & Beverage Company of the Year in the 14th annual American Business Awards.
FC: What are Fazoli’s expansion plans for the future?
CH: In 2016, we plan to open 12 new restaurants in states including Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, California, and several others, to grow and further catapult Fazoli’s development nationwide.
Earlier this month, we announced Fazoli’s experienced a record-breaking month in July with the signing of nine multi-unit and single-unit franchise agreements to develop 22 new restaurants nationwide. As part of the agreements, Fazoli’s will develop new restaurants in cities including Dothan, Alabama; Snellville, Georgia; Southern California; Hazard, Kentucky; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Memphis, Tennessee; McAllen, Texas; Chicago; and Central Indiana.
The announcement comes on the heels of significant growth for Fazoli’s, including 13 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth – with franchisees boasting a 5.1 percent year-over-year same-store sales increase in July.
If you are looking to franchise a restaurant chain, there has never been a better time to be a Fazoli’s franchisee!
FC: Talk to us about Fazoli’s impressive growth.
CH: Fazoli’s is experiencing tremendous momentum in 2016. Our franchised restaurants are currently experiencing 3x the growth rate of the industry average, and have experienced 12 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. What we have coming to improve the brand has us confident that this streak is going to continue for a foreseeable period of time.
FC: How can potential entrepreneurs learn about the Fazoli’s franchise opportunity?
CH: Fazoli’s franchisees are experiencing record sales growth, and the company is currently seeking single- and multi-unit operators to join the brand’s rapid expansion. For more information about franchise opportunities, connect with Fazoli’s online at www.ownafazolis.com.