Fresh To Order, an Alpharetta, Ga., based "fast fine" restaurant, is looking to open about seven stores in the Charlotte area, said founder and president Pierre Panos.
"If you look at Charlotte right now, there are a lot of nice restaurants," said Panos. "But if you look at nice restaurants that are under $10 and also healthy, there are not many."
Panos, who has been working in the restaurant industry since he was growing up in South Africa, where his Greek family had businesses. Since immigrating to America, he's developed restaurant concepts such as Stony River, a steakhouse, and Brookwood Grill, a casual fine dining restaurant.
But after the recession, he wanted to develop a restaurant that would offer chef-inspired cuisine faster and cheaper, with dishes under $10 and served in under 10 minutes. They would also require less initial investment to open. "If you're spending $2 - $3 million on a restaurant, it can go south very quickly," said Panos.
He hit on Fresh To Order. The stores have food cooked, as the name implies, from fresh ingredients when it's ordered, in an open kitchen. He said the stores are more nicely decorated and a bit more upscale than fast casual chains, but with an average price that's only $1.50 more.
And though Fresh To Order restaurants have kiosks where people can see how healthy a dish is and select meals to fit their specific diet, Panos said he doesn't want to be thought of as a "healthy" place - too many connotations of bland, unsalted, unsweetened food.
"If I had put 'Fresh to Order - Healthy Restaurant,' I bet you I'd have been out of business in six months," said Panos.
He met with interested franchise owners this week in Charlotte. There are currently nine Fresh To Order locations, one of them in Tennessee and the other eight in Georgia. Panos said he hopes to open his first Charlotte location within 12 months, as either a franchise or corporate store. Here's a look at the restaurant's menu.
|Fresh To Order|