America’s largest premium QSR Italian chain quickly reacts to crisis, launches compelling franchise incentive, signs record-breaking number of franchise agreements and more in 2020 to set the brand up for monumental 2021
Despite facing the most challenging year for the restaurant industry, Fazoli’s proved month after record-breaking month that its vigorous momentum cannot be slowed down.
The renowned, Lexington-based brand known for serving up premium Italian dishes at a great value closed out seven straight historical months with double-digit month-over-month sales and traffic. In December alone, Fazoli’s set 45 sales records in company and franchise locations and experienced its all-time busiest sales day and week. From June through December, Fazoli’s seven-month average company sales increased nearly 15% and traffic was up 14%.
“Even during a tumultuous year for the industry, Fazoli’s continued to show why we’re a best-in-class brand,” said Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard. “We didn’t just break records, we shattered them. After our most successful summer and fall in brand history, and an overall extraordinary 2020, we are incredibly well-positioned for another monumental year in 2021. We’ll keep doing what clearly works – innovating our menu, delivering incredible service and convenience and adding even more value so guests can enjoy our craveable Italian dishes how, where and when they want.”
When the pandemic forced dining rooms to close nationwide, Fazoli’s implemented an impressive, guest-focused off-premise strategy and created popular family meal packages that delivered on value, both of which attributed to Fazoli’s unprecedented digital sales growth of 560.7% in delivery sales and 295.4% in online order sales. The iconic Italian brand began delivering complimentary breadsticks to guests waiting in the drive-thru line so they did not miss out on one of the hallmarks of dining in at Fazoli’s. The brand also saw record low drive-thru service times after utilizing drive-thru timers and adjusting oven temps and airflow, all without compromising on quality. Taking convenience a step further, Fazoli’s launched curbside service in less than a week, delivering meals directly to guests’ vehicles.
In addition to a successful off-premise strategy, Fazoli’s focused on providing a variety of fresh, Italian classics at an unmatched value. To achieve this, Fazoli’s launched new menu offerings, such as bundles like the Super Family Meal and its 5 Under $5 promotion. The brand relied on its strong rewards platform to reach guests with these incredible value offers. Fazoli’s loyal fans, along with new and lapsed guests, are experiencing firsthand the brand’s outstanding food quality, unmatched value and convenience.
Fazoli’s successful sales initiatives during the crisis have kept franchise interest at an all-time high. Seizing an opportunity to revitalize the restaurant industry, in June, the brand launched an aggressive conversion strategy as part of its 2020 Franchise Incentive Program. Through the strategy, Fazoli’s encouraged challenged quick-service or fast-casual restaurant operators to convert their existing shells into a Fazoli’s. With the new conversion incentive, franchisees could sign a short five-year term, versus the typical 15-year commitment, with zero down payment, zero franchise fees and zero royalty fees in the first year. Fazoli’s also relaxed many of its conversion requirements so operators can get a 2,000- to 3,500-square-foot restaurant open for under $350,000.
During 2020, Fazoli’s opened three new locations in Cartersville, Georgia; Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Sedalia, Missouri, as well as opened its first-ever ghost kitchen in Atlanta. Along with these openings, by October, Fazoli’s saw a surge in franchise deals fueled, in large part, by its unrivaled conversion strategy. The company signed 10 new franchisees to add 21 locations to its pipeline throughout Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas. Additionally, a current franchisee who opened his first location this summer signed on to add two more restaurants in Georgia.
Continuing the development surge from 2020, Fazoli’s is poised for a record-breaking number of openings in 2021 with 10 to 15 new locations expected to open during the calendar year. With development plans in full throttle, Fazoli’s set its sights on signing 15 new franchise groups to put 45 new locations in its pipeline. New 1,700- and 2,500-square-foot prototypes with a double drive-thru are also in the works for 2021 to cater to prospective franchisees looking for additional off-premise options.
By early spring of 2021, wings will once again be a big part of Fazoli’s success strategy when the new menu items roll out systemwide as part of the brand’s core menu. In late September, after conducive tests that showed nearly an 11% increase in sales at select locations, Fazoli’s added wings to its core menu at all company locations and launched its new virtual wing concept under the name Wingville. Franchisees were eager to get on board, with nearly a quarter of operators opting to launch wings ahead of the planned 2021 system rollout. In addition to debuting wings systemwide in spring of 2021, Fazoli’s plans to deliver even more indulgent dishes to guests with the addition of other virtual kitchen and virtual concept opportunities.
“Following such an exceptional year in 2020, Fazoli’s is ready to excel even higher in 2021,” Howard said. “With robust interest among new and existing franchisees, we are gearing up for another huge development year. The combination of a superb, high-quality menu, unmatched value and impeccable service and convenience will ensure Fazoli’s remains an industry leader. We are giving every reason to come to Fazoli’s!”
Founded in 1988 in Lexington, Ky., Fazoli’s owns and operates nearly 220 restaurants in 28 states, making it the largest premium QSR Italian chain in America. Fazoli’s prides itself on serving premium quality Italian food, fast, fresh and friendly. Menu offerings include freshly prepared pasta entrees, Submarinos sandwiches, salads, pizza and desserts – along with its unlimited signature breadsticks. Fazoli’s is a winner of FastCasual and Steritech’s 2020 Excellence in Food Safety Award and was named one of the “Top 200 Franchises in 2021” by Franchise Business Review, a FastCasual “Brand of the Year,” and an Entrepreneur 2018 “Franchise 500.” CEO Carl Howard was named among the most influential restaurant CEOs in the country in 2020 by Nation’s Restaurant News, was recognized as one of the top 25 industry leaders on FastCasual’s 2020 Top 100 Movers and Shakers list, and he and his team were recipients of the 2020 American Business Awards Gold Stevie Awards in Food & Beverage for Company of the Year, Achievement in Management and Human Resources Team of the Year.