Fazoli's Italian Restaurants

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Fazoli's Italian Restaurants
Company Description: Lexington, Kentucky-based Fazoli's is the leading fast-casual Italian restaurant chain in the U.S., with 123 Company-owned and 89 franchised locations in 24 states. The Company and its franchisees employ 4,876 Associates. Fazoli's has been the recipient of numerous industry and national awards for excellence in quality, service, branding, leadership and franchise satisfaction.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Company of the Year - Food & Beverage

Nomination Title: Fazoli's Restaurants 2015: A Leader Never Follows

Tell the story about what this nominated organization has achieved since January 1 2015 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

2015 was truly a break-out year for Fazoli's Restaurants, the 213-unit fast-casual Italian restaurant chain based in Lexington, KY. Founded in 1988, Fazoli's owns and operates 123 restaurants and franchises 90 more. Capping a successful and compelling 7-year turnaround, the Company was acquired by NYC-based Sentinel Capital Partners in July 2015 after the company announced record-breaking sales and profits for its fiscal year ending in March. In fact, the company's recent record-breaking performance represents a continuation of positive momentum and industry-leading sales performance dating back nearly 6 years. Through December, 2015, franchise same-store sales have been positive 66 of the past 69 months.

While Fazoli's fiscal year ended in March 2015, the brand's sales momentum certainly did not! During calendar 2015, Fazoli's continued to extend its record-shattering sales and profit performance. Franchisees set 89 individual sales records during 2015, surpassing the 72 records set system-wide in 2014 on top of the 55 records set in 2013. Overall, according to industry analyst Black Box Intelligence, Fazoli's sales performance outpaced the restaurant industry during 11 of 12 months during 2015 by an average of 1.3%.

Growth of the brand through new unit development was also a key ingredient to Fazoli's break-out success during 2015. The Company added 7 new franchise units throughout the year, representing a 7.7% franchise growth rate -- the brand's best rate of growth since 2001. A new opening in Madisonville, KY in December 2015 set the company's all-time record for opening day and opening week sales ($79,635). Finally, twelve additional new restaurants were placed under contract during 2015 for future years. It is clear that with new traditional and non-traditional prototype designs, new and expanded crave-able and indulgent product lines and service enhancements that include the addition of a Brand Ambassador in our dining rooms, Fazoli's is redefining the standard-of-care for the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. Guests have noticed the re-positioning of the Fazoli's brand from traditional quick-service to contemporary fast-casual and are visiting Fazoli's more frequently and enthusiastically than ever before. But that's not all...

The industry has taken notice as well! Fazoli's has been recognized both regionally and nationally for its leadership in defining the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry as well as its industry-leading performance. FastCasual.com named Fazoli's to its 2015 list of "Top 100 Movers & Shakers" (#21). Additionally, in only the Company's second year of survey participation, Franchise Times ranked Fazoli's #12 on its 2015 list of "Top 50 Franchises in America", up from #16 the previous year. In July, 2015, The New York Post named Fazoli's "one of 5 fast casual restaurants that could be the next Chipotle." In June, the company's HR Department earned a Silver Stevie at the American Business Awards for "HR Department of the Year." And finally, the company was named winner of the 2015 COEX Innovation Award for Marketing and Service. Individually and collectively, each of these awards recognize a top performing, industry-leading company that is committed to excellence in every aspect of its operations.

The heart and soul of Fazoli's success begins and ends with our nearly 5,000 Associates nationwide. With average General Manager tenure of 6.8 years and average hourly Associate tenure of 2.3 years, Fazoli's Guests are the everyday beneficiaries of a seasoned and committed best-in-class team of food service professionals. Numerous national and industry awards bestowed upon Fazoli's from 2003 through 2015 reflect the sustaining strength of the company's "people first" culture.

In summary, Fazoli's longstanding and well-established leadership position within the fast-casual segment of the restaurant industry, our record-setting performance in 2015, as well as the awards and recognition received during the past year from top industry trade publications and trade groups, uniquely qualifies Fazoli's for consideration as Company of the Year in the Food & Beverage category.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this organization since the beginning of 2015 (up to 150 words).

* Acquired by NYC-based Sentinel Capital Partners, July 2015.
* Set all-time sales/profit records in 2015, surpassing previous records set in 2000.
* Opened 7 new franchise restaurants in 2015, representing a 7.7% growth rate. One of the new restaurants set the company's all-time record for opening week sales ($79,635).
* Franchisees set 89 individual sales records in 2015, eclipsing 72 records set in 2014 and 55 set in 2013. Same-store sales have been positive for 66 of the past 69 months.
* Named #12 on Franchise Times list of Top 50 Franchises in America (up from #16 in 2014).
* Winner, Silver Stevie in the 2015 ABA's for "HR Department of the Year."
* Winner, 2015 COEX Innovation in Marketing and Service Award.
* Named #21 on Fast Casual's 2015 list of "Top 100 Movers & Shakers."
* NY Post (July) names Fazoli's one of 5 hottest growth prospects.

Of the following measures of success, which ONE do you want the judges to most appreciate about your organization's story of achievement since the beginning of 2015?
Financial Performance