Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 13, 2011

Fazoli’s returns to fine dining

Tableside service is part of makeover

Somerset —  

Fast. Fresh. Italian. And now, new and improved.
Fazoli’s, the Kentucky-born restaurant chain known for providing a taste of Italian cuisine in a quick-service environment, has undergone a makeover and change in philosophy. It’s something president and CEO Carl Howard is very excited about — and hopes customers here in Pulaski County will be too.
“We love the Somerset market,” said Howard. “We get so much support from the local community.”
Fazoli’s began in Lexington at the end of the 1980s but spread out quickly — at its peak, the chain had in the neighborhood of 400 stores around the country. The Somerset location opened in 1995, and has been something Fazoli’s can hang its cappello on, as an “above average” store in Howard’s words. It does close to 15 percent better business than the company average, draws a big gross every year, and has a veteran management team that Howard lauded.
That said, Somerset’s Fazoli’s has in the past suffered from some of the problems that the chain as a whole has determined to fix. Fazoli’s has changed the aesthetic appeal of its dining experience, improved ingredients and added new menu items, and has brought back an old favorite — tableside breadstick service.
“What we’ve done is that we’ve changed every element of the business,” said Howard. “We updated the environment and put money into every single restaurant.”
That includes cosmetic changes and fundamental ones. For one thing, stores have received paint jobs, decor alterations, new countertops, all in an effort to make them “more modern and brighter.”
Most noticeable, though, is the use of actual plateware and glassware. Fazoli’s customers have long been accustomed to bringing plastic and Styrofoam containers or tin foil boats full of pasta back to the table — a look that just didn’t suit the food itself.

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