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QSR Feature
Staying Alive
Staying viable in the quick-service game requires an ability to change course when your customers—both consumer and franchisee—demand it.
Restaurant chains celebrate anniversaries in 2008.

2008 marks a year of growth and expansion in the quick-serve industry. Established concepts are working hard to maintain their staying power while emerging concepts are counting on innovative menu offerings and marketing techniques to boost them to the top. Check out these noteworthy companies to see where the future of fast food is headed.

70/Ivar’s

Year founded: 1938

units: 24 Ivar’s Seafood Bars; 3 Ivar’s Fish Bars; 20 stadium concessions

Signature product(s): Ivar’s Fish ‘n Chips and White Clam Chowder

Ivar’s began as a small fish ‘n chips stand at the aquarium Ivar Haglund founded in 1938 on the Seattle waterfront. Eight years later Haglund expanded his operations into full-service with Ivar’s Acres of Clams. Today several concepts operate under the Ivar’s name, including more than 20 quick-serve-style Seafood Bars. Each concept showcases Haglund’s original recipes. Those same recipes have found their way into the consumer packaged goods sector. Since 1984, Ivar’s has offered a retail line of soups, sauces, and other items in grocer seafood and frozen sections.

Ivar’s management intends to open two to five units in the next five to seven years. The new stores will be a mix of full-serve and quick-service. 

50/Pizza Hut

Year founded: 1958

units: More than 11,000 worldwide

Signature product(s): Thin ‘n Crispy Pizza, Pan Pizza

Fifty has been a year of major changes at Pizza Hut. This year the YUM! Brands concept became a true pizza/pasta place when it introduced its Tuscani Pastas menu. The line’s April launch was deemed a success when more than 2 million dishes of Pizza Hut’s Meaty Marina and Creamy Chicken Alfredo sold in the first month.

The chain’s latest look is also garnering rave reviews. The most recent Pizza Hut prototype, introduced in 2006, is contemporary but with a neighborhood feel thanks to locally inspired wall décor, television screens, and an inviting bar area.

Chain executives declined to share future growth plans for competitive reasons, but they were willing to share that “there are at least 1,000 towns in the U.S. that we would love to open restaurants in.”

50/Pizza Inn

Year founded: 1958

units: 323

Signature product(s): Original Thin Crust Pizza

In 1958, two brothers opened the first Pizza Inn in Dallas. Since then, Pizza Inn has come a long way from its Lone Star roots. Continuing its international expansion, Pizza Inn’s growth strategy includes opening units in Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain while actively recruiting new franchisees in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Tunisia.

To observe 50 years of operation and the popularity of its Original Thin Crust Pizza and tangy sauce, the company hosted a two-month anniversary celebration, which started in July. Highlights included the “Moustache Mondays” promotion, where moustache-wearing customers received discounts, and the reintroduction of Pizza Inn’s original mascot, Jo Jo.

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