America’s largest premium QSR Italian chain adds wings to core menu following test that resulted in an 11% increase in sales
Beginning Sept. 30, the renowned brand known for serving up premium Italian dishes at a great value will offer wings as part of its core menu at all company locations. Available for dine-in, drive-thru, online ordering and delivery, Fazoli’s will launch its new wing concept under the name Wingville.
Closing out on its most successful summer in brand history, Fazoli’s showed no signs of a slowdown, ending August with sales up 17.4% and traffic up 21.6% at company locations. A major contributor to the summer sales surge was the introduction of wings at 11 company locations. The brand is projecting its wing launch will bring in an additional $2,500 a week per location.
When the pandemic struck, the iconic Italian brand put a pause on all testing, including expanding wings beyond its one test location in Fazoli’s home market. However, once Fazoli’s saw the shift to off-premise as a result of mandated dining room closures, the brand saw an opportunity to fill a consumer need for a delicious product that was perfect for delivery and drive-thru, the two channels seeing unprecedented sales growth. Pivoting quickly, in early April Fazoli’s launched wings in two more company locations in less than four weeks. Seeing strong off-premise sales straightaway in the new locations, the brand added five more restaurants to its test list in May and even opened its first ghost kitchen in Atlanta with wings on the menu.
“Once we saw the shift to off-premise sales and the overwhelming growth of delivery, we put our foot on the gas,” said CEO Carl Howard. “This is a challenging time for our industry, but instead of backing down, we continued to innovate and capitalize on opportunities. Our locations with wings are 7% pre-post net of control higher in sales, and the ROI on adding wings is roughly four months. The numbers out of the gate were so strong, making the decision to launch wings company-wide this fall a no-brainer. Looking into the future, we are excited for wings to become a systemwide menu addition. Our franchisees on board and excited about the opportunity to drive additional sales and traffic with our delicious new lineup.”
Guests at Fazoli’s can indulge in wings tossed in mild, medium, hot, honey BBQ, hot honey BBQ, Parmesan Garlic or Asian Chili sauce. Fazoli’s wings are prepared in fryers, a new addition to the Fazoli’s kitchen that opens up the culinary possibilities, giving the brand an opportunity to develop craveable new items it had not previously been able to offer. Fried mozzarella skewers, toasted ravioli, Pasta chips, Italian nachos and fried zeppole, just to name a few of the indulgent menu items the culinary team has planned.
“We are very excited to debut wings,” said Director of Culinary Innovation Rick Petralia. “Though we are an Italian brand, we wanted to expand and explore new ways to innovate our menu to provide guests with something they’d never expect from us. Wings were an easy choice because of their popularity and ease of execution. They are a perfect expansion for our off-premise business. On the culinary side, our team has been working very hard to perfect our wing recipes, testing and evolving sauces to provide the best variety and flavor for our guests. This is only the beginning, and the new equipment opens up even more possibilities to continue to innovate and enhance our menu.”
By early spring of 2021, Fazoli’s wings will be available systemwide as part of the brand’s core menu. Franchisees will begin rolling out wings at their locations as early as this fall.
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 2020” 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.