Fazoli's beats recession, aims to go more upscale

fazolis pizzaItalian restaurant chain Fazoli's is doing sizzling business despite the starving economy. While others are scaling back and rolling out dollar menus, Fazoli's is cooking up a recipe for success that includes an upgraded menu and effective marketing.
The company plans to play in a different league. It's rolling out a new store prototype with an upgraded menu and service, and taking its business to an upscale clientele. To woo its new demographic, Fazoli's will run food to tables and serve its food on real plates with silverware instead of plastic utensils.

"That'll be the key differentiator for this brand," Carl Howard, Fazoli's chief executive, told Restaurant News about the proposed changes. "We're often compared to fast food, but we're premium QSR (quick service restaurant). We believe we have a real opportunity, not only to enhance our food but to make the dine-in experience better."

The new store prototype will be in seven new locations next year .

It's a bold move considering recent statistics. Through Sept. 30, restaurant traffic was down 4%, according to NPD Group. Total consumer spending at restaurants slipped 2% for the same period. Traffic at casual-dining restaurants slipped 5% .

So, would Fazoli's continue to beat the trend? I guess only time will tell.

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