As you may have heard, Fazoli’s is turning 30-years-old (link to initial 30-year anniversary blog once approved/published) in 2018! And boy, what a whirlwind of a ride it has been since the very first restaurant opened its doors back in September 1988. Such a whirlwind, in fact, that we’ve decided to devote today’s blog to traveling back in time to recall some of our milestones and early accomplishments through the years:
- Early 1988 — Developed by Jerrico, Inc., parent company of Long John Silver’s, the initial Fazoli’s concept was born.
- September 1988 — The first Fazoli’s restaurant opened its doors on North Broadway in Lexington, Kentucky. Actually, the first restaurant was called “Gratzi’s,” a name that was quickly changed to “Fazoli’s” within just one month of opening.
- Early 1989 — We opened our second and third restaurants in Richmond and Nicholasville, Kentucky. Today, the Richmond Fazoli’s is still in the very same building we converted in 1989, a former Pizza Inn. The Nicholasville Fazoli’s was a converted KFC, located on the south side of town, which was then relocated in 1996.
- September 1989 — Fazoli’s landed in Winchester, Kentucky, marking our fourth restaurant, where it still stands today.
- November 1989 — We converted a closed “Frisch’s Big Boy” on Richmond Road in Lexington, Kentucky into the fifth Fazoli’s, which still resides in the same building today. We had opened the first five Fazoli’s within 14 months, and we had no plans of slowing down!
- October 1991 — Finally, Fazoli’s franchises! The very first franchise location opened in Ashland, Kentucky.
- 1995 — Just seven years after starting our QSR journey, the 100th Fazoli’s restaurant opened as part of our rapid expansion to the Denver, Milwaukee and Green Bay markets. That’s an average of 14 grand openings per year!
- 1998 — Ahh, a big year for Fazoli’s for sure due to back-to-back-to-back, strong limited time offers (LTOs) for our fans. We introduced our signature “Submarinos,” and followed our oven-baked sandwiches with oven-baked pasta, too — introducing our fan favorite “Pizza Baked Spaghetti.” We also introduced our “Duos & Trios” in ’98. It’s safe to say we were expanding from every angle!
- 1990 — …Or as we like to call it, “the year of the breadsticks!” We hired “breadstick ladies” to pass out free breadsticks to dine-in guests on Friday and Saturday nights. Within two weeks, sales began to trend up nicely. This same year, we opened in the Indianapolis market and launched “unlimited breadsticks” — our signature. This market opened with sales higher than we had seen with the first five openings. (Clearly, the proof is in the breadsticks.)
- 2000 — Fazoli’s celebrated ten prosperous years in business!
- April 2005 — We introduced and promoted “Build Your Own Pasta,” an LTO, which later became a permanent menu staple.
The Fazoli’s menu has come a long way, too:
In the beginning, our menu was simple. We served one-size pasta entrees with options such as Spaghetti with Marinara, Meat Sauce or Meatballs; Fettuccine Alfredo; or Lasagna. We also served Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, and three types of pizza (cheese, pepperoni, or a combination), either by the “double-slice” or as a whole pie.
We offered Meatball Subs and cold deli sandwiches, and served “family” buckets of pasta for carry-out, and “Lemon Italian Ice” for dessert. We even had our own version of Sangria, called “SanGratzi,” for our adult Guests to enjoy.
All Fazoli’s entrees were garnished with a parsley sprig and were served on a paper-board plate that featured one red stripe and one green stripe. In the beginning, breadsticks and pizza dough were made in-house for the first five Fazoli’s. Once we expanded outside the Lexington, Kentucky market and began to franchise, we switched to a local baker to keep things uniform for a fan favorite.
What’s next for Fazoli’s?
We’re confident that 2018 will be a profitable year for expansion and growth. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our 30-year tenure as an elevated QSR franchise, it’s that people love Fazoli’s (especially our signature breadsticks)— and we’re prepared to give the people more of what they want! We’re looking forward to continuing our efforts to refine and modernize our menu offerings to bring more flavor and customizable options to our fans, as well as our efforts to refresh and remodel the remaining franchise-owned Fazoli’s restaurants across the country.