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New Prototype Conveys the Look, Feel and Taste of Its Italian Heritage
by Beverly Dykes
In the last quarter of 2012, Sbarro launched a new pizza recipe, Neapolitan-style, that would replace the longstanding pizza recipe featured at its more than 500 distinctive eateries operating throughout the U.S. The debut was timed to coincide with National Pizza Month, while also marking the company’s return to its authentic Italian roots. Stated CEO James J. Greco, in November, “This launch is part of a larger strategy to take Sbarro back to its roots and to revisit the qualities that made us a leader -- delicious Italian food made from quality ingredients and served in a warm and welcoming environment.” Beginning last October, the company enacted a company-wide enhanced training effort aimed at preparing new dishes, as well as re-certification of team members in the company’s heritage, values and culture of hospitality.
In conjuction with the latest product introduction, Sbarro launched a comprehensive marketing campaign involving experiential, in-store, public relations and social media. As part of the efforts, the company added 100,000 new fans to its newly re-designed Facebook page. “This marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Sbarro’s storied history. In just several weeks, the team has broken new territory on a number of fronts, and this is just the first taste of what’s to come, as we continue to unlock Sbarro’s potential,” said James Greco.
Sbarro’s history dates to its beginnings as a single Italian Salumeria (grocery store) in Brooklyn in 1956. The extraordinary quality of the food was matched by the Sbarro family’s passion for offering the highest standards of customer service. After having established a presence throughout the New York area, in 1967, Sbarro opened its first mall-based restaurant in Brooklyn, offering fresh food in an open kitchen that allowed for fast self service (a genuine precursor to the modern-day Sbarro concept). Its values and priorities helped Sbarro ultimately evolve into a leading retail concept that propelled the growth of the Italian restaurant category globally. Today, the restaurants continue to communicate its unique taste of the true Italian spirit to guests at the chains more than 1,000 owned and franchised eateries operating in traditional and non-traditional venues in approximately 40 countries worldwide. From corporate headquarters in Melville, NY, award-winning Sbarro continues to bolster its position in the industry.
The menu’s categories encompass such popular Italian items as pizza, a selection of pasta dishes, other hot and cold Italian entrees, salads, sandwiches, drinks and desserts. In August of 2012, the chain announced the successful completion of its grand roll out of new menu items and related cooking methods at ten initial test units around the country, which resulted in sales increases of more than 10% at the mall-focused locations. Among innovations unveiled were new recipes, made-to-order pasta stations, and open-flame ovens. The Grand Roll Out event festivities featured strolling violinists, soft glowing candlelight and seating area tables adorned with red and white checkered tablecloths, that served to bring Sbarro’s authentic Italian heritage to life. Remarked CEO Jim Greco, “We received great feedback on the new recipes and gained valuable insight from an operational level. Local dignitaries, company executives, community members and other guests all joined together to experience the new look, feel and taste of Sbarro.“ Sbarro’s President of Business Development, Anthony Missano, also noted, “Additionally, we’ve energized our staff while shining a focus on the values that make Sbarro great.”
The latest recipe has taken all of the pizza’s authentic ingredients to the next level -- from handmade dough to vine ripened tomatoes, to the whole milk mozzarella that is shredded daily. Integrating the latest technological advances is making it possible for the company to offer pizza of the same quality as its original, time-honored family recipe, on a national scale. Innovations in farming and technology have enabled Sbarro to find year-round sources for the product needed to serve the new Neapolitan-style pizza recipe at all of its locations, while ensuring consistency. Following the U.S. launch, the newly developed pizza recipe is projected to be introduced across Sbarro’s globally operating market regions.
A related significant corporate effort worthy of mention: as part of the company’s long-standing commitment to giving back to the communities in which it does business, the chain has leveraged its “Slice of Italy Tour” as a platform to support food banks throughout the country. At every tour stop (involving the company’s antique 1940’s pizza trucks visiting approximately 25 cities), donations will be accepted for free slices of pizza, with the funds raised being given to local area food banks. Based on the initial months estimates of funds raised under the program, a significant number of meals will be able to be provided across the country to help fight hunger.
Sbarro is the world’s largest Italian mall-focused restaurant franchise. The brand is synonymous with fresh and inventive quick service Italian food. As of late 2012, company executives had disclosed intentions for approximately 50 to 60 new international openings planned to be developed, continuing into 2013. In announcing the pending introduction of the chain’s latest prototype to debut in 2013, James Greco stated, “We are making significant strides with our product, culture and positioning. The accomplishment of these initiatives is a large step toward realizing our vision of being the preeminent fast-casual Italian brand worldwide.”
As Sbarro continues to increase its brand recognition throughout the marketplace, it is continually seeking opportunities to partner with franchise entrepreneurs for domestic expansion. Pre-entry site evaluations are typically conducted with franchisees for a prospective Sbarro site. In general, site requirements include a highly populated area, with a large number of residents within a five mile radius, and high traffic counts. Under certain circumstances, Sbarro will enter into a multi-unit developer agreement, obligating a franchisee to open a predetermined number of restaurants within a designated demographic region. The restaurants can occupy highly visible spaces ranging in size from 300 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. (having a minimum of 13 feet of frontage) in enclosed super regional malls, regional malls, power centers, community strip centers, neighborhood centers, downtown business districts, as well as in airports, universities, travel plazas, train stations, hospitals and other high-profile venues that are characterized by high-foot traffic. The preferred lease term commitment is 10 years.
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