The grill station includes a cook-and-hold oven and a steam table for holding certain side items, such as mashed potatoes, that staff prepare fresh throughout the day. It also includes a sauté range for searing items like tofu and tuna. Undercounter refrigerators and a convection oven round out the equipment battery. "When you keep the food very simple you get to keep the equipment simple because you don't have to ask it to do something it's not supposed to do," Gideon says.
The chain's focus on "fine" as a defining feature of its food, service and facilities applies to its growth strategy, as well. "Until we can find the best franchisees and the best locations, we'll hold off or go after those in a more judicious way than just trying to rack up numbers," Blain says. "We're self-directed, so we can keep our pace of growth to the level of quality that we know we can consistently execute."
She projects 50 stores will open over the next 5 years, with an additional 50 in some stage of development. While the bulk of growth will come through franchising, f2O will continue to develop company stores as well.
"We're an emerging brand, so having that credibility with franchisees is important," Blain says. "It's also important for ongoing R&D. And in some cases, we'll seed a market with company stores to secure A-plus locations until the right franchisee is identified."
2012 Best In Class Winners
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