Q&A: Tom Romano, Founder, President and CEO of Gino’s Burgers & Chicken

Gino's Burgers & Chicken is back

Trend of “Not Just Burgers” – Gino’s Burgers & Chicken

After three decades of the Gino’s Hamburgers brand lying dormant following its acquisition by the Marriott Corporation in 1982, the iconic chain has made a comeback.  The updated Gino’s Burgers & Chicken, now positioned in the fast casual market, opened its first restaurant in 2010 and has grown to six units.

Tom Romano, who began with the chain as a manager trainee, was the chain’s COO at the time of the 1982 acquisition.  Today, he leads Gino’s Burgers & Chicken as President and CEO.

What was the history of Gino’s?

The original Gino’s was founded in the late fifty’s and so named after Football Hall Of Famer and all time Defensive End Gino Marchetti.  Following three decades of successful growth, Gino’s which was known for great Burgers & Chicken grew to nearly 400 Company owned units before the sale.  In its final year of operation in 1982, Gino’s served nearly 8,000,000 guests through over 20,000 loyal & committed employees.  Remember the slogan…“Everybody Goes to Gino’s”

What inspired you to resurrect the Gino’s brand?

I was inspired primarily by a trend for Better Burgers, loyal fans & employees of an iconic brand of the sixties and the desire for guest empowerment and the right to choose.

Thanks primarily to Gino’s loyal following and the birth of social networking, the brand was kept alive.

The first retro Gino’s opened in October of 2010 with a nostalgic yet eclectic theme. As expected former Gino’s guests & employees flocked to Gino’s new opening from a radius that exceeded over 100 miles.

And so, while guests of the past enjoy visiting the newest Gino’s recalling fond memories of their past with a new generation of relatives, the objective for the rebirth of Gino’s was to go beyond the business model of the past. As in the past, Gino’s offers the very best Burgers & Chicken.

What makes Gino’s Burgers & Chicken different in today’s market for consumers?

Here’s the difference now: The burgers and chicken are fresh. Each burger is hand patted each day. Fresh chicken sandwiches and boneless chicken tenders are hand breaded and salads are hand tossed. All food is cooked to order to ensure the highest quality product.

At Gino’s, today’s guests get the best of all worlds since the offering is well beyond the “Trend of not Just Burgers”.

Since you have brought the Gino’s brand back, how many are opened? How many are projected to be open?

There are six locations currently open, mostly franchised and an additional twenty that are awarded. We expect to have fifteen restaurants open by the end of 2013 and add an additional 15 a year for the next four years, totaling 75 Gino locations at the end of 2017.

How do you select locations and new franchisees?

Franchisees are selected on the basis of those that most closely meet our philosophical and cultural profile, the details of which are delineated and communicated thoroughly internally. Locations are required to meet our real estate criteria of average household income, demographics, population density and ratio of day time pop to roof tops.

Gino’s Burgers & Chicken franchise information can be found at ginosgiant.com or by e-mailing franchising@ginosgiant.com.