“We’re putting that into the brand because we think customers will appreciate it,” he said.
The chain has been on the rebound under Howard's leadership. Fazoli's has generated 15 straight quarters of same-store sales growth, and is well on its way to 16: same-store sales increased 4.9 percent in January, according to the trade publication Nation's Restaurant News.
The brand “refresh” also includes new plateware, a new catering menu, and new dishes such as Brownie Gelato Sundae, a chocolate brownie topped with salted caramel gelato and candied walnuts for $3.49.
RELATED: Fazoli's chooses Dayton to launch new restaurant concept (March 2010)
Over the years, Fazoli’s has used the Dayton-Springfield region frequently to test-market new menu and service concepts, including the new menu, which preserves the chain’s modest price points. “We’re half the price of Olive Garden — and you don’t have to tip here,” Howard said of the chain, where customers order at a counter and are delivered their food in the dining room.
Howard is a bit of an anomaly in the high-turnover restaurant industry. He has led Fazoli’s for nine years, and even survived a corporate change of ownership: in July 2015, Fazoli’s was sold by Sun Capital Partners to Sentinel Capital Partners, which also owns TGI Fridays and which just last week sold its Checkers/Rally’s Drive-In Restaurants.
RELATED: Fazoli's Italian restaurant chain sold(July 2015)
Usually, such takeovers are accompanied by a clean sweep of the corporate offices. But Howard has persisted.
“I’m not ready to quit. I love Fazoli’s, and I know the brand,” Howard said. “We’re on the cusp of great things.”
RELATED: Fazoli’s to unveil 20 new menu items in Dayton(February 2015)