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Sbarro Unveils the 'Skinny Slice'

Sbarro Unveils the 'Skinny Slice'

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Their newest offering contains only 270 calories

Sbarro, the New York-based pizza chain with locations all over the world, has introduced their newest offering, which makes it apparent that they’re jumping on the bandwagon of fast-food joints slimming down their product line with healthy (or, more accurately, healthier) options.

The "Skinny Slice" contains only 270 calories, and comes topped with mozzarella, pecorino Romano, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and roasted red and green peppers. The crust is a bit thinner than usual, and the slice on the whole is a bit smaller than you’d expect (one of these does not a full meal make, unfortunately), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the chain, which is known for its high-fat offerings.

Former Wendy's president selected to lead Sbarro

Sbarro announced today that current Board Chairman J. David Karam has assumed the additional duties of CEO. He replaces Jim Greco, who resigned from the company to pursue other business interests, according to a news release.

Greco joined the Melville, N.Y.-based Sbarro Inc. just over a year ago as part of the company's turnaround bid following Chapter 11 reorganization. At the same time Greco joined Sbarro, Karam was named as its new chairman.

"Sbarro has a great heritage with a legacy of innovation and this is a company that has significant opportunity for further growth," Karam said. "Guest service, menu development, food quality and operational excellence will remain at the core of our focus as we continue the revitalization of the Sbarro brand."

Karam had previously served as president of Wendy's International from 2008 through 2011. Under his leadership, Wendy's rose to become the second largest QSR Hamburger chain in the U.S., surpassing Burger King for the first time in Wendy's 42-plus-year history.

Prior to joining Wendy's in 2008, Karam was president of Cedar Enterprises, a Wendy's franchisee, operating 150 Wendy's restaurants in Indianapolis, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Hartford, Conn., and Seattle.

While a franchise owner, Karam was recognized with the R. David Thomas Founders Award and the Diamond Award National Marketer of the Year. He also was recently inducted into Wendy's Hall of Fame. Karam has a degree in accounting from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Owner President Management program at Harvard Business School.

Greco's changes

Once named as CEO, Greco immediately implemented a strategy to become the "pre-eminent fast casual brand worldwide." Under his leadership, Sbarro introduced a new Neapolitan-style pizza recipe, as well as a "Skinny Slice" offering. The company also began testing a new restaurant prototype with made-to-order pasta stations and open-flame ovens.

In August, Sbarro reported that initial sales at the prototypes were up more than 10 percent compared to traditional models.

Prior to joining Sbarro, Greco served as CEO of Bruegger's until the company was acquired by Groupe Le Duff SA in 2011. He partnered with Sun Capital to acquire Bruegger's in 2003.

Sbarro has more than 1,000 restaurants in more than 40 countries.

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Pizza Hut's 'Skinny Slice' Will Save You Calories . Kind Of?

If you like pizza piled high with toppings but hate the calories, Pizza Hut's "Skinny Slice" might just appeal to your battling inner demons.

Sporting the same moniker as Sbarro's "Skinny Slice," Pizza Hut is testing out its new low-calorie pizza in Toledo, Ohio and West Palm Beach, Florida, according to the Associated Press.

The slices of pizza will hover under 300 calories each, with limited pie and topping options. According to Doug Terfehr, a Pizza Hut spokesman who spoke with the Associated Press, "The pies simply use less of the same dough used for regular pies and are lighter on the toppings."

Those testing out the "Skinny Slice" at the West Palm Beach Pizza Hut can get a slice for under 250 calories, but there's already pizza on the menu with fewer calories than that, such as the 12-inch slice of Hawaiian BBQ pizza (220 calories), 12-inch slice of Veggie Lover's hand-tossed pizza (200 calories) or a 12-inch slice of Thin N' Crispy slice of Veggie Lover's pizza (180 calories).

We would also suggest taking the cheese off any regular Pizza Hut slice, not eating all of the crust, or simply not eating pizza altogether if you're seriously trying to cut calories.

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Live Updates

The company also operates the Old Carolina Barbecue Company, a chain of six restaurants. It has added a new menu for its catering operation, the Lighter Side of Old Carolina, that features grilled chicken wraps, carved turkey sandwiches and chicken salad made with light mayonnaise.

“I don’t want to describe this as the anti-barbecue,” he said. “It’s more like I’m hedging my bets on comfort food.”

Matt Friedman, founder and chief executive of Wing Zone, said the company’s decision to add Skinny Dippers, fried chicken breast nuggets with no breading, to its menu in January was as much about business as about offering customers a healthier choice.

The price of chicken wings, the company’s bread and butter, has risen, Mr. Friedman said, so Skinny Dippers are more profitable for the chain. “From a business perspective, when the core product and its price have an impact on profitability, you diversify the menu,” he said.

The chain already offered grilled chicken sandwiches and salads with grilled chicken, but those are “somewhat mainstream,” Mr. Friedman said. “What distinguishes Skinny Dippers is that you can get them in any one of the 17 flavors our regular wings come in,” like Nuclear Habanero and Sweet Samurai.

Skinny Dippers are a limited time offer — or maybe not. “If this is a massive success, we’re going to keep it,” Mr. Friedman said.

Similarly, James Greco, chief executive of Sbarro, said that while the pizza chain had added the lower-calorie slice to capitalize on New Year’s dieting resolutions, the slice now outsells all other slice varieties but cheese and pepperoni. “Although our plan was to have it through March, we’re actually thinking about keeping it,” Mr. Greco said.

Mooyah, a build-a-burger chain based in Frisco, Tex., that dedicates itself to burgers, fries and 100 percent ice cream shakes, put lower-calorie options on its menu to attract a group of customers that Alexis Barnett Gillette, the marketing director, nicknamed “the veto vote.”

“What we found is if you limit yourself to the beef hamburger, there are certainly a growing number of folks who wouldn’t even consider our restaurants,” Ms. Barnett Gillette said. “It could be mom, who’s a vegetarian and may not want to go to a burger restaurant, or turkeytarians or someone with a health restriction of some sort.”

So Mooyah offers the choice of a 200-calorie turkey burger with fewer than 10 grams of fat on a choice of a white or whole wheat bun. It also has a black bean vegetable burger and sweet potato fries, a small portion of which is 255 calories, compared with 278 calories in the same size portion of regular French fries.

Still other restaurants are finding ways to highlight existing options on their menus that make a healthier meal, like Pita Pit’s Resolution Solution. The menu helps customers who build their pitas better understand how to create a healthy option, said Jack Riggs, chief executive of Pita Pit USA.

“When the public starts saying it wants healthier options — and we are hearing that — we have an obligation to help show you what that means in our restaurant and give you choices to help you achieve that,” Dr. Riggs said. “That’s good business.”

Low Carb Pizza Crust Alternatives

Pizza is probably up there in my top 5 favorite foods. It's almost impossible to get a straight answer when it comes to how many calories are in a slice of New York style pizza (the gold standard. obvs)

I mean, we can access nutrition facts from pizza chains like Domino's or Pizza Hut but we all know that that's not really the real deal. It doesn't even come close to the doughy, cheesy deliciousness of a slice of real NY style pizza (and you don't HAVE to be in NY to get it).

Traditionally, I've always told my clients to use the nutrition facts from Sbarro when estimating the calories/macros in pizza. After all, a slice of Sbarro's pizza is pretty close to the size of a traditional NY slice.

To give you an idea, here are different sizes of pizza and what they're considered:

Sbarro's pies are 17" so the closest I could find to a NY pie.

Here's what I could dig up:

Sbarro's Cheese Slice: 430 Calories, 15 g Fat, 51 g Carbs, 3 g Fiber, 21 g Protein Sbarro's Pepperoni Slice: 550 Calories, 23 g Fat, 61 g Carbs, 5 g Fiber, 25 g Protein Sbarro's BBQ Chicken Slice: 560 Calories, 18 g Fat, 73 g Carbs, 2 g Fiber, 28 g Protein

So it's pretty safe to say that a typical slice of NY cheese pizza is somewhere in the range of 430 calories a slice.

That said, there are SO many options when it comes to pizza these days that being on a "diet" doesn't necessarily mean a life without pizza.

Check out some of my favorite ways to enjoy pizza on the lighter side!

. And once in awhile, don't feel bad about indulging in the REAL THING. Just know how to balance it!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Check out my recipe here! But be careful here! Some store bought cauliflower crusts still contain a ton of carbs-- read your labels! And when you're eating out, if your restaurant has cauliflower pizza crust, you could pretty much assume if it tastes too good to be true. it probably is

Chicken Pizza Crust: Check out my recipe here! This is one of my all time FAVORITE ways to enjoy pizza on a low carb diet!

Joseph's Lavash Bread Toaster Oven Pizzas: I've been a fan of these Joseph's lavash breads for years. They're BIG and contain only 120 calories and 8 grams of net carbs per entire lavash. I top this with Rao's Tomato Basil sauce and some shredded part skim mozzarella, pop it in the toaster oven and I'm good to go!

Portabella Mushrooms: Check out this classic recipe for "Pizza-bellas" from Hungry Girl

Zucchini Pizza Bites: Another favorite low carb pizza swap. Try this recipe from Skinnytaste! They also make a great party appetizer.

BBQ Chicken Pizza on a Protein Pizza Crust:I first found these Golden Home Ultra Thin Protein Pizza Crusts on Netrition and have been a fan ever since! These are the perfect individual size crusts and they each contain only 110 calories but pack 16 grams of protein.To make a BBQ chicken pizza:

Preheat your oven to 375 Degrees F

Spread 1-2 TBSP of your favorite BBQ sauce on your Golden Crust. (I like Stubb's!)

Top with diced red onion and cheddar cheese

Bake for 5-10 minutes until the crust starts to brown & the cheese is melted.

GG Cracker Pizzas: This recipe was made famous by Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD and the F-Factor Diet Learn how to make them here!Get your GG crackers here.

High Fiber English Muffins, Low Carb Pitas or Low Carb Tortillas:Make your pizza your own!Start with one of my favorite bases:

Add your sauce
: Try my Skinny Pesto, Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce, Cucina Antica Vodka Sauce, Stubb's Original BBQ Sauce

Add your cheese: Part Skim Mozzarella, Dairy Free Cheese

Add vegetables: Raw or cooked (or make a salad pizza!) Add protein: Grilled Chicken, Turkey Pepperoni, BBQ Chicken, Sausage, etc

Calling all wine-lovers, this Sangria Red has your name written all over it. Texas Roadhouse’s signature Sangria features a combination of red wine, brandy, triple sec, sweet and sour, grenadine, orange juice, and peach puree. Serve the drink with a splash of Sprite and fresh cherry, orange slice, and a lime wedge. Get the recipe HERE.

This delicious cocktail is inspired by Kenny Chesney’s island lifestyle! The tropical drink features coconut rum, peach schnapps, non-alcoholic blue curacao syrup, sweet and sour, and lemonade! Serve over ice and garnish with fresh cherry and orange slice. You’ll feel like you’re in paradise once you sip on this vibrant beverage! Get the recipe HERE.

Blame the Pizza

The Sbarro survey found that 48% of Americans are craving pizza within 15 days of their resolution to eat healthier. About 40% who did not fulfill their resolutions to eat better in 2012 blame pizza for their failures.

Sbarro Pizza has a new creation that may help people eat their favorite food (PIZZA) without placing good health on the altar of fatty fast foods.

“Today, you can find great food options when you’re craving pizza like the new Sbarro Skinny Slice™ that’s only 270 calories per slice and topped with better-for-you ingredients,” said Jim Greco , CEO of Sbarro.

I’m guessing this new Sbarro Skinny Slice Slice™ is similar to what Starbucks did a few years ago when they introduced the Skinny Latte. Sbarro, like Starbucks, is trying to entice those watching their calories into their stores. It’s a good idea that may just work.

At only 270 calories per slice, the Skinny Slice is prepared with premium ingredients including Roasted Red and Green Bell Peppers (we at PizzaSpotz love this already) Portobello Mushrooms and sweet, Caramelized Onions topped with a sprinkling of Mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheeses (This is definitely a gourmet pizza).

* The Sbarro and Kelton Research study surveyed 1,000 Americans. The study was conducted as an online survey of the general population.

Sbarro Unveils the 'Skinny Slice' - Recipes

Calling it their "biggest brand evolution ever," Pizza Hut adds ten new crust flavors, five new toppings, four new drizzles, new Skinny Slice Pizzas, eleven new specialty recipes, and a new logo, box, and uniforms starting Wednesday, November 19th, nationwide. You might remember that I mentioned they might be coming out with new pizzas.

They're calling the new menu, "The Flavor of Now" and with the addition, Pizza Hut touts that there are over 2 billion different combinations to their overall menu.

Here's a breakdown of all the changes (with links to the new ingredients/crusts I've tried so far):

New Toppings

- Sliced Banana Peppers - pickled with a mild tang.
- Peruvian Cherry Peppers - sweet and spicy.
- Fresh Spinach - sprinkled on top of the pizza as it comes out of the oven.
- Premium Salami - cured and seasoned with red pepper, anise, and fennel.
- Classic Meatballs - made from seasoned pork and beef with onions, mushrooms, and breadcrumbs.

New Crust "Flavors" - they basically brush different seasoning onto the crust before baking. The last two, Ginger Boom Boom and Get Curried Away are available for a limited-time with plans to rotate in new flavors. There's no extra charge for crust flavors.

- Hut Favorite (the same as they currently brush on their Hand-Tossed Crust) - a garlic buttery blend plus grated Parmesan and Italian herbs (oregano, parsley, and basil).
- Toasted Asiago - a sprinkle of shredded Asiago.
- Honey Sriracha - a sweet and spicy glaze of honey and red chilies.
- Salted Pretzel - brushed the edge crust with a solution to make it like a pretzel sprinkled with salt.
- Toasted Parmesan - a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
- Fiery Red Pepper - a blend of cayenne and crushed red pepper.
- Toasted Cheddar - a sprinkle of shredded cheddar.
- Garlic Buttery Blend - the Hut Favorite minus the cheese.
- Ginger Boom Boom - ginger and roasted garlic with a bit of heat from black pepper and paprika.
- Get Curried Away - A blend of traditional curry spices that includes coriander, cardamom and fenugreek.

Sauces - besides the classic pizza sauce that was their standard, there are five others to choose.

- Classic Marinara - their classic pizza sauce seasoned with garlic, black pepper, and Italian herbs.
- Premium Crushed Tomato - crushed, vine-ripened, California-grown tomatoes seasoned with garlic and onion.
- Garlic Parmesan - a creamy sauce featuring Parmesan and Romano cheeses, butter, and garlic. First introduced earlier this year.
- Buffalo - medium Buffalo sauce.
- Barbecue - a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce featuring honey and molasses.
- Honey Sriracha - the same blend of honey and red chilies as the crust flavoring option.

Cherry Pepper Bombshell Pizza

Drizzles - they swirl these on top of your pizza after the toppings. There's no added charge for the drizzles.

Specialty Recipes - while your free to make your own, Pizza Hut also provides a number of suggested combinations (and yes, I will try and review them all at some point):

- BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger - "Barbeque sauce topped with classic meatballs, hardwood smoked bacon, fresh red onions and diced Roma tomatoes – flavored up with a toasted cheddar on the crust edge and a barbeque sauce drizzle."

- Old-Fashioned Meatbrawl - "Classic marinara sauce topped with classic meatballs, fresh red onions and diced Roma tomatoes – flavored up with our Hut Favorite on the crust edge."

- 7-Alarm Fire - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with pepperoni, sliced jalapeño peppers, Peruvian cherry peppers, sliced banana peppers and fresh green bell peppers, flavored up with fiery red pepper on the crust edge."

- Sweet Sriracha Dynamite - "Honey Sriracha sauce topped with grilled chicken, sliced jalapeño peppers, sweet pineapple and Peruvian cherry peppers – flavored up with honey Sriracha on the crust edge and a honey Sriracha sauce drizzle."

- Cock-A-Doodle Bacon - "Creamy garlic Parmesan sauce topped with grilled chicken, hardwood smoked bacon and diced Roma tomatoes – flavored up with toasted Parmesan on the crust edge."

- Giddy-Up BBQ Chicken - "Barbecue sauce topped with grilled chicken, hardwood smoked bacon and fresh red onions – flavored up with toasted cheddar on the crust edge and a barbecue sauce drizzle."

- Buffalo State of Mind - "Buffalo sauce topped with grilled chicken, sliced banana peppers and fresh red onions – flavored up with toasted cheddar on the crust edge and a Buffalo sauce drizzle."

- Garden Party - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with fresh green bell peppers, fresh red onions, fresh mushrooms, diced Roma tomatoes and fresh spinach – flavored up with our Hut Favorite on the crust edge and a balsamic sauce drizzle."

- Pretzel Piggy - "Creamy garlic Parmesan sauce topped with hardwood smoked bacon, fresh mushrooms and fresh spinach – flavored up with a salted pretzel crust edge and balsamic sauce drizzle."

- Cherry Pepper Bombshell - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with premium salami, Peruvian cherry peppers and fresh spinach – flavored up with toasted Asiago on the crust edge and a balsamic sauce drizzle."

- Hot and Twisted - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with premium salami, sliced jalapeño peppers and fresh red onions – flavored up with a salted pretzel crust edge."

Skinny Club Pizza

Skinny Slice Pizzas - Pizza Hut is also introducing a lighter, thinner version of their Hand-Tossed Crust that each clock in at 250 calories a slice or fewer. There are five versions in all:

- Skinny Beach - "Premium crushed tomato sauce with grilled chicken, fresh red onions, Peruvian cherry peppers and fresh spinach."

- Skinny with a Kick - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with pepperoni, sliced jalapeno peppers, Peruvian cherry peppers, fresh green bell peppers and fresh red onions – flavored up with fiery red pepper on the crust edge."

- Skinny Italy - "Classic marinara sauce topped with classic meatballs, diced Roma tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, fresh red onions and fresh spinach – flavored up with a balsamic drizzle."

- Skinny Luau - "Premium crushed tomato sauce topped with grilled chicken, slow-roasted ham, fresh green bell peppers and sweet pineapple."

- Skinny Club - "Creamy garlic Parmesan sauce topped with grilled chicken, slow-roasted ham, diced Roma tomatoes and fresh spinach – flavored up with toasted Asiago on the crust edge."

Has the pizza segment responded to demand for healthier options?

Launches during Q1 feature unique veggie toppings and 'health-halo' descriptors.

When restaurant trend predictions for 2013 began trickling in toward the end of last year, "healthier options" topped many lists.

Technomic forecasted a big year for vegetables, for example, while children's nutrition landed atop the National Restaurant Association's forecast for the second year in a row.

The trend is in direct response to consumer demand for such options, which is on the upswing. GrubHub has tracked "healthy takeout orders" for the past few years and has found that such requests are up more than 50 percent since January 2011. They were up 10 percent nationwide in January 2013 compared to the same period last year.

Health-halo descriptors

In part as a response to this trend, emerging menu trends in the pizza segment include a bigger focus on chicken and seafood as toppings, according to Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. Additionally, "fresh toppings" requests are up 6 percent since 2010 and consumers are also seeking out more premium ingredients than they were in recent years.

"They want more health-halo descriptors such as all-natural, locally-sourced, healthier components like whole wheat crusts, organic, artisan, gluten-free," Tristano said.

However, although healthier options have popped up here and there on pizza menus, it's unlikely they'll become the rule rather than the exception. While more consumers now want healthier options, that doesn't mean they'll always choose those options when dining out.

"Ultimately what operators need to keep in mind is consumers indulge when they go out to eat — they can eat healthy at home. But they want to have healthful options when they are out because it gives them more control over their decisions," Tristano added.

Chains offering such options

Many pizza chains seem to be working hard to provide consumers with such a choice. For example, Sbarro introduced a 270-calorie "Skinny Slice" in January. The trademarked Skinny Slice features roasted red and green bell peppers, Portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions, and is topped with mozzarella and pecorino Romano cheeses.

"We created the Skinny Slice as a delicious menu option for our guests looking for a great meal or snack that is both low in calories and satisfies that fix for pizza done the Sbarro way," said Jim Greco, CEO of Sbarro.

Beginning April 1, zpizzawill offer its newest pizza, with roasted tomato and pesto, featuring charred sweet tomatoes, pesto sauce and fresh mozzarella topped with fresh basil. It includes 100-percent organic wheat flour and is fire-baked until crisp. Founder Sid Fanarof called this new pizza a healthy alternative to traditional pizzas recipes.

Also starting April 1, LaRosa's Pizzeria will offer a healthier menu for its guests. The new "B Good 2 U" menu includes chicken, turkey and tuna hoagies, all served on a multigrain wheat bun. The menu features items under 475 calories.

California Pizza Kitchenhas introduced The Diet Pepsi Mixology program, which offers original flavors in lower-calorie combinations. Guests now have the opportunity to choose from three beverage combinations: Berry Lean, a combination of SoBe Lean, fresh blueberries, passion fruit, blood orange and pomegranate mélange Blueberry Lime, a combination of blueberries, lime and Diet Pepsi and the Dark and Red, which combines pomegranates, blood oranges and Diet Pepsi.

California Pizza Kitchen has also launched two new seasonal menu items with ingredients such as Brussels sprouts and roasted beets.

Papa Murphy's has also added three pizzas to its Primo Line, with toppings such as fennel sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula.

And, Pizza Ranch recently brought back its sweet chili pizza and Cran-Tastic Salad. The sweet chili pizza is made with roasted chicken, onions, green pepper, pineapple, sweet chili sauce and cheese. The Cran-Tastic Salad contains dried cranberries, candied pecans, chopped lettuce, feta cheese, red onion slices and raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

Good for business

In addition to hitting a trend, providing "healthier" options or items with "health halo" descriptors seems to be good for business, according to a new study by the Hudson Institute. Its report, "Lower-Calorie Foods: It's Just Good Business," analyzed the largest limited-service chains and found those that have been increasing the amount of lower-calorie options within the past five years have had better sales growth, larger increases in traffic and stronger gains in total food and beverage servings.

"Consumers are hungry for restaurant meals that won't expand their waist lines, and the chains that recognize this are doing better than those that don't," said Hank Cardello, lead author of the report, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute.

In 17 of the 21 restaurant chains evaluated from 2006 through 2011, lower-calorie foods and beverages outperformed those that were not lower-calorie. In addition, chains that increased their servings of lower-calorie items saw a 5.5-percent increase in same-store sales, compared with a 5.5 percent decline among chains selling fewer lower-calorie servings and a 10.9-percent growth in customer traffic, compared with a 14.7 percent decline.

On the cover: One of California Pizza Kitchen's new pizzas features Brussels sprouts as a topping.

Alicia Kelso

Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.

Keep up with what's happening in the restaurant industry

Subscribe now to the Restaurant Operator Daily, which brings you the top stories from Fast Casual, Pizza Marketplace, and QSR Web.

Sbarro’s New Chapter

When David Karam took the reins of Sbarro in 2013, he found himself with a floundering brand. Fresh off a bankruptcy, the then–New York–based brand was still beleaguered by a large amount of debt and was grasping for stronger sales.

There seemed to be only one way forward.

“The logical path was ultimately to rebrand the concept as primarily an authentic, freshly prepared, New York pizzeria that ultimately could compete on the streets with the likes of Domino’s and Papa John’s,” Karam says.

Fast-forward two and a half years and Sbarro is hardly recognizable. After declaring bankruptcy a second time in March 2014 and closing about 175 stores, Sbarro emerged stronger and more streamlined, with the best traffic performance it’s seen in nearly a decade, new unit growth, and positive sales throughout the system.

Aside from Sbarro’s signature New York–style pizza, nothing was off limits for a refresh. Its headquarters were moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Karam had cut his teeth as president of Wendy’s International from 2008 to 2011. A new logo ditched the red, white, and green Italian flag and lowercase, italic lettering in favor of a sleeker, all-caps, black print encircled by a simple red and green pizza slice. The brand also tweaked its recipes and reemphasized the quality of its pizza—dough made in-house daily, sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, and whole-milk Mozzarella shredded in-house.

“The consumers’ IQ with food is getting more and more sophisticated. They’re paying a lot of attention to what they’re putting into their bodies,” says CMO Anne Pritz. She adds that high-quality ingredients have always set Sbarro apart from the competitors now it is reemphasizing that quality given the elevation of consumer demand.

The boost in attention to menu quality coincides with a reduction in menu quantity. Karam says that when the company restructured in earnest, the leadership realized that Sbarro’s reputation as an Italian eatery had led to a proliferation of menu items beyond the core offerings of pizza and Stromboli.

“That may may have been more relevant in the ’70s and ’80s, but it really became less relevant in the last couple of decades as the consumer insisted upon and demanded more freshly prepared foods,” Karam says. “What sold at Sbarro was—and the way the consumer viewed that brand was—primarily pizza. … And yet the company continued to invest a lot of their operating focus on this broader line of Italian foods, like lasagna, chicken Parmesan, etc.”

This might sound like an all-too-familiar tale of a fast-food brand reinventing itself as a fast casual, but Karam says it is quite the opposite. Sbarro might be improving and promoting its quality, but the brand plans to stay squarely within the quick-service space. At a time when fast-casual pizza is booming and traditional delivery outfits like Domino’s are rebranding to include more menu items, Sbarro is taking the road less traveled.

The final aspect of this sizeable makeover is store design. In October, Sbarro will open its first-ever standalone store in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus.

“It’s not that Sbarro is looking to exit malls—really, nothing could be further from the truth,” Karam says. “It’s simply that we don’t want mall locations to represent the preponderance of all of our stores.” He adds that of the 900 malls in the U.S., Sbarro has locations in roughly a third, leaving ample room for mall expansion.

The new location will feature indoor seating for 20, as well as an outside patio. It will also offer carryout and delivery services. Within the next six weeks, four additional standalone stores will debut in the Columbus area.

And while the brand doesn’t have a specific goal for standalone units outside of its home base, he estimates that five to 10 company-owned stores, as well as additional franchise restaurants, will open next year.

Sbarro will also remodel 25 mall locations by the end of the year and 40 in 2016. The updated designs will include new menuboards, signage, and a modified store design that brings prep to the front, in view of customers.

Watch the video: Who Are These People Eating At Sbarro In NYC?


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