Fresh To Order Hits The Ground Running In 2012

New menu items, re-imaged restaurants, leadership changes and grand openings are just a few of the exciting developments ahead that will drive growth for Fresh To Order (F2O) in 2012. Fresh To Order, a niche player in the ‘fast fine’ dining segment, combines the food quality of casual fine dining with the dining environment and price point of fast casual to offer its guests fresh, flavorful food for around $10 in under 10 minutes. The company will use its ‘fast fine’ positioning to guide innovation and growth decisions in the coming year.

To lead and execute F2O growth strategies, two key personnel changes have been made. F2O has tapped seasoned restaurant development professional, Jocelyn Blain, to be its Chief Development Officer. Blain has held franchising, real estate, and restaurant design and construction positions with Taco Bell Corp and AFC Enterprises, Inc., and most recently was the Senior Vice President of Development of Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands, Inc.

“Jocelyn’s role is new to F2O and with her broad experience in in company and franchise development, I know she’ll drive quality growth of our concept. She is also a welcome addition to F2O’s management team,” said Pierre Panos, concept creator and President of the brand.

Additionally, former Vice President of Operations Jesse Gideon has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. His primary responsibilities will be growing average unit volumes through innovative, kitchen-executable menu development and operational execution of the dine-in, take-out and catering businesses. Gideon, a Johnson and Wales graduate with experience in fine dining and elite country club restaurants, has been with F2O since its inception and is behind the creation of its signature menu items. He is also the Corporate Chef of Brookwood Grill, another fine casual restaurant owned by Panos.

As part of a plan to continue increasing sales during dinnertime, Gideon has revised Fresh To Order’s creative menu of famous salads, amazing Panini sandwiches and fresh entrees to expand its offerings this year with the addition of fresh to order flame grilled pizzas. Guests can also look for an array of Chef Inspired Appetizers, as well a new selection of all-natural individual desserts made fresh. Appetizers like Blackened Lime Shrimp, Almond Crusted Seared Tuna, Ale Laced Chicken Tenders, and a Soup Flight that includes a small tasting of five fresh soups, which were developed as the perfect complement to Fresh To Order’s wide selection of entrees. Customers with a sweet tooth can now indulge without feeling guilty when they select a individual dessert like mango pie, key lime pie, chocolate silk pie, lemon pie or peanut butter pie. The new menu items will be available in all Fresh To Order restaurants by February.

“The appetizers are versions of our protein sides, but with a unique twist,” said Panos. “It’s a way for us to cross-utilize our most popular products and offer something new and exciting.”

Fresh To Order hopes to increase dinner sales from the current 35 percent to 50 percent of total sales during 2012. Part of that plan also includes newly designed stores featuring warmer elements like wood furnishings and décor, muted interior colors, and soft mood lighting—all more in line with a dinner-friendly atmosphere. The new décor will be featured in the two new stores slated to open in 2012—one close to the Emory University Campus, (directly across from the CDC), this summer, and the other in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, slated to open during the year’s fourth quarter. Fresh To Order’s six existing locations will be refreshed to include the new store designs in phases.

“The opening of Fresh To Order in Atlanta’s airport is in line with our goals to focus on growth of the brand through corporate and franchise development this year,” Panos said. “Adding a location to HJAIA —which happens to be the busiest airport in the world—will give F2O a lot of visibility, yes, but more than that we’re excited to begin our partnership with a recognized airport retailer, Concessions International, to attract new guests.”

Also on tap for Fresh To Order in 2012 are plans to expand further by signing 8-10 multi-unit franchise agreements, with at least eight locations expected to open in 2013.

“We’ll concentrate our development efforts in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest states for the next 12 months so we can leverage operational oversight from our Atlanta corporate market,” says Blain. “A truism in the franchising world is that the first few franchisees will help spell the success of a concept, so we’re offering “concierge-level” support to foster their goals, as well as ours. We’re looking to establish long-term franchise relationships.”

Fresh To Order, a pioneer in the “fast fine” dining segment, has already distanced itself from fast-casual eateries by providing a finer dining taste profile at a fast-casual price point with an elevated level of service. The average guest ticket order is $9 at lunch and $11 at dinner. Every protein is cooked “fresh to order” on a flame grill in the open-display kitchen as guests order, and dressings and soups are prepared from scratch twice daily in each restaurant. A wide selection of wines and beers is also available. Five of Fresh To Order’s six locations are located in and around metropolitan Atlanta, with the sixth location in Chattanooga, Tenn. Two of the locations—Johns Creek and Sandy Springs in suburban Atlanta—are franchised. By 2015, Fresh To Order expects to have 50 locations nationwide, with another 50 locations in various stages of development.

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