Franchise focus: Gyroville delivers Greek traditions in fast casual setting
Lambros Kokkinelis was born into the restaurant industry, so it’s no surprise he made it his passion and career.
“I grew up in New York City working in diners operated by my Greek family,” said the CEO and founder of Gyroville, a nine-unit fast casual Mediterranean concept based in Florida. “It was in my father’s diner where I developed my love for cooking and discovered that food itself has no boundaries; there are so many ways to be involved in the restaurant business, and there is always room for new concepts.”
Before opening Gryroville in 2010, Kokkinelis owned and operated three Moonlite Diner locations in South Florida. During those six years, he watched Chipotle gain popularity while also noticing a void when it came to Greek food.
“(It) was an eye-opener for me,” said Kokkinelis. “The burrito gained tremendous popularity, and I saw the changing needs of consumers toward healthier options. At the same time, Mediterranean casual dining was thriving in major cities across the U.S.”
Kokkinelis, whose parents were born in Greece, set out the deliver his family’s recipes — along with the rich traditions from the Greek isles — in a fast casual setting.
“Over time we evolved it further to include more adventurous flavors you find in Mediterranean cuisine,” said Kokkinelis, who chatted this week with FastCasual about the growth of his brand, which is franchising and getting ready to roll out a redesign.
The brand operates eight units in South Florida and one in Ecuador and is debuting a redesign at its newest franchise opening next month in Topeka, Kansas. Gyroville is on target to open four others this year and has signed 12 franchise agreements to continue growth throughout the United States.
FastCasual: What’s the new look about?
Kokkinelis: The new store design will have a cleaner, crisp look and feel that is synonymous with the brand’s updated logo and color scheme, which includes shades of green and neutral colors as well as a blue accent. All light fixtures and furniture have also been updated to reflect the new branding. All locations moving forward will open with the new prototype.
The new store design is sleek and modern. It truly embodies our ‘live fresh’ mentality.
FastCasual: What is the growth plan over the next five years?
Kokkinelis: Initially, we’re targeting the southeastern United States and plan to grow outward from there with both multi-unit operators and owner-operators. Of course, if we find the right franchisee in a market outside the Southeast, we would consider it depending on the franchisee’s experience. All told, we plan to have 50-plus units in operation or development within the next two years. We’re also looking to continue international expansion through master franchise development agreements.
FastCasual: What are AUVs?
Kokkineli : Per Item 19 of our Franchise Disclosure Document, they are approximately $450,000.
FastCasual: What do you look for in a franchisee?
Kokkinelis: While it is a perk, previous restaurant experience is not required to become a Gyroville franchisee. Along with our proven business model, franchisees gain access to our national purchasing deals and established systems that streamline all aspects of operations. They also go through a three-week training program with the corporate team, which includes onsite training at a location.
- Why should someone want to become a Gyroville franchisee?
Kokkinelis: Consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious and aware of better eating habits. As this trend continues, so will the demand for our menu offerings as well as our franchise opportunity. Consumers choose Gyroville because we offer a fresh, healthy alternative to the mundane options in the crowded fast casual market.
We’re disrupting the fast casual scene and proving that the build-your-own style concept can be fresh, unique and flavorful. We’re constantly innovating and showing the versatility of our menu, and both consumers and franchise investors have taken notice.
Our franchise has really taken off over the past year and the future is nothing but bright.
FastCasual: What types of tech do you use to help run operations?
Kokkinelis: We use an Enterprise Management system that enables us to control all aspects of the POS [point of sale] from the corporate office. This enables menu changes to happen remotely. We are also able to upload new menus to our digital menu boards from our corporate office. In addition, Uber Eats has made deliveries simple with the use of a tablet that alerts us to orders and enables us to inform the driver when they are ready.
FastCasual: What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone launching a restaurant concept?
Kokkinelis: Have enough working capital to get you through opening and into the first month or so of operation.
Editor’s note: FranchiseFocus is a monthly series focusing on a specific franchise brand. If you would like FastCasual to consider featuring your concept, send email to CherryhC@networldmediagroup.com
Cover photo: CEO Lambros Kokkinelis