The influence of Panera and Chipotle on the fast-casual market continued last week in Baltimore when Fazoliís debuted its entry into the competitive market segment. Its new Venti Tre Modern Italian offers an ordering format familiar to patrons of these pioneering chains: Customers choose either a piada, salad or pasta as the base of their entrťes, then move down the line to customize their meals with at least 23 (which translates to ďventi treĒ in Italian) fresh toppings. The stores also offer an Italian-soda bar as well as beer and wine.
Two more locations are on the docket to open in the Baltimore area by the end of the year, with a target of five to eight new units in 2015. The concept will compete against other emerging fast-casual Italian chains, such as the Ohio-based, 25-unit Piada Italian Street Food. Fazoliís is registering Venti Tre for future franchise growth, but its focus will remain aimed at East Coast markets.
Fazoliís has approximately 220 restaurants in 27 states. Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners acquired the brand in 2006.