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D'Angelo Sandwich Shops, the Deadham, Mass.-based chain serving grilled-to-order submarine sandwiches, salads and soups took the wraps off a new strategic approach to competing in the quick-service dining category. The initiative includes an updated brand positioning heralded by a new name -- D'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches -- a more modern, welcoming facility design and a comprehensive new branding program.
D'Angelo currently has five operations in convenience stores: a company-operated unit, three licensed units and one franchise unit.
The new concept is intended to leverage D'Angelo's point of distinction -- sandwiches and salads featuring freshly grilled meat and poultry. “This is a major repositioning for us, a whole new brand experience that is more relevant to today's and tomorrow's consumer,” said Michael McManama, vice president of marketing for the chain of more than 200 company and franchisee-operated restaurants. “We've adopted a new descriptor attached to our D'Angelo name, which focuses more attention on what our guests love most about us -- menu items like our Steak & Cheese and No. 9 -- and we're offering guests a more inviting environment, featuring warmer tones, more comfortable furniture, an updated color palette and other attributes that invite them to dine with us more often.”
Securing a higher percentage of guests who stay on-site to dine will give D'Angelo restaurants more time to enhance the customer experience through personal interaction, sampling programs and other gestures that provide a generally pleasing environment and inspire frequent return visits. It also creates the opportunity for incremental sales to guests who purchase additional products that they may not have included in their original orders, and from groups that previously may have looked elsewhere.
Standard features of the new D'Angelo concept include a graphics package, interior and exterior signage, a bartop and stools offering single seating, a booth package featuring cloth and soft vinyl in warm color tones, exposed brick walls emblazoned with the new logo, an open, exposed ceiling with track lighting and wood floors. The upscale positioning is rounded out with a comprehensive branding package that includes packaging, uniforms, menus, menu boards and other visual components.
D'Angelo's new design also adopts a “food is theater” philosophy wherein guests are afforded clearer, closer views of their orders as they are being prepared. The visuals not only draw greater attention to the grill but also showcase the chain's recent move to offering freshly tossed salads.
In refreshing the design, the 38-year-old chain set out to develop a format strategically equipped to achieve multiple financial goals. These financial objectives were among the main reasons that drew D'Angelo to WD Partners, which partnered with the chain in the redesign, McManama said, citing the firm's “Strategic Restaurant Engineering” (SRE) division, which focuses on maximizing operational efficiency, as a key attribute that led to its selection.
“WD applied its SRE process and helped us achieve a number of improved efficiencies,” says McManama. “We cut between 80 and 100 square feet from the back of the house. We reduced walking time. The sandwich-making process is now faster, and we have less wasted space. We expect this to make a more attractive, economical proposition that will help make our corporate operations more profitable and add topline revenue to attract prospective franchisees.”
D'Angelo began testing the new concept in several locations earlier this year, and early rresults from the initial locations have exceeded expectations.
“We've surveyed consumers about their experience, and 98 percent of our guests who were surveyed rated us a 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 was best,” McManama says. “Team members in each location are ecstatic over the new, refreshed look and about the reaction of the guests who are coming in, and our franchisees love what they've seen thus far.”
In addition to the new design, several of the new restaurants also are being used to test a variety of new products, McManama says. Among the menu items making their debut are a line of “Toasted Classics” sandwiches, as well as French fries, onion rings and pita chips.
There are currently more than 200 D'Angelo Sandwich Shops in operation as standalone units and in tandem with Papa Gino's, a sister company. D'Angelo's strategic growth plan calls for 200 new locations in the next five years. Franchise opportunities throughout the Eastern Seaboard are available to qualified investors.