Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

SEP 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● chain profile 68 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • SEPTEMBER 2018 ● Chain Headquarters: Baton Rouge, La. ● Year Founded: 1996 ● Signature Menu Items: Chalmette Cheesesticks, Chicago Deep Dish ● Number of Units: 32 total, including three Rotolo's Craft & Crust locations. Other locations will convert to the Craft & Crust concept in coming years. ● Unit Size (Prototype): 4,750 square feet, (3,750 FOH, 1,000 BOH) ● Location Type: End-cap strip center ● Total System Sales: $30 million ● Check Average: $36 ● Equipment Package Cost: $150,000-$200,000 FACTS OF NOTE Once stretched, the dough gets its sauce and toppings from wells on a pizza make table on the restaurant's cold line. It then goes to the new double-stacked stone deck oven on the hot line, a 180-degree turn away. The company imports this particular oven from Italy. Notably, Rotolo Jr. specified an electric version of this unit, which he had the best success with during his time at culinary school. "The gas deck ovens are so finicky. You've constantly got to change them up or down," he says. "With moving into new stores, flipping stores, this seemed like the right way to go. You turn it on and it's done. You don't have to touch anything. The program is all set. ...The bake is still there, but it makes a more consistent bake. There are no hot spots like in a gas oven." Despite the quality of this oven, it didn't replace the chain's older oven, a conveyor unit that actually serves as the base of the new deck oven. The chain kept this piece in order to cook a handful of items that simply work better in that unit. In a deck oven, says Rotolo Jr., the chain's popular calzones tend to burn on the outside before the cheese on the inside melts. Rotolo's also continues to bake its chicken wings in the deck oven, which produces a juicier and more consistent wing than frying, he adds. Ironically, though, Rotolo's Craft & Crust now includes a lone fryer on its hot line. Staff use this equipment to make fried cauliflower and calamari appetizers, as well as fried shrimp for the alfredo entree. A range serves as the other main piece on the hot line. This piece, a holdover from the previous kitchen equipment lineup, primarily makes pasta dishes. It sits on a refrigerated chef's base, holding items that staff cook in the fryers. Items that come from the fryer, ovens or range then go to the kitchen's 11-foot expo station for final garnishes, sauces, etc. This becomes one of the busiest stations in the kitchen, and often requires three to four staffers, says Rotolo Jr. Before making their way to the expo station, however, some pies and entrees visit the finishing station on the cold line, which sits opposite the hot line. At the finishing station staffers add the cold toppings, remove deep dish pizzas from their pans for cutting, and add other specialty toppings and garnishes to entrees. The rest of the cold line consists of a large salad table for side and entree salads. Notably, a break in the cold line's equipment makes room for the staffer working the ovens. One Brand for the Future Since the launch of the Craft & Crust concept, Rotolo's has opened a few more restaurants under that brand. By the end of October there should be five of these locations, including a few units converted from the Rotolo's Pizzeria concept. More conversions should take place over the next several years, Rotolo Sr. added. "We're not running two separate brands by any stretch. We're going to update our existing locations while growing our footprint with new stores," Rotolo Sr. says. These conversions will likely take many forms, he adds. Both Rotolo's Pizzeria and Rotolo's Craft & Crust are end- cap concepts. Where it makes sense, older Pizzeria restau- rants may take on additional space to make room for Craft & Crust's larger footprint. For these stores, the restaurant already has a plan in place to implement the Rotolo's Craft & Crust design. Since 500-year-old sunken cypress stumps are hard to come by, the bar, along with other wooden elements, will feature reclaimed wood construction purchased from local providers. For the hand-painted murals, the restaurant plans to send the original muralist to each location to recreate her work. Other existing stores, though, may not be good can- didates for a rebranding. In those situations, Rotolo's may relocate a restaurant to find suitable real estate or a neigh- borhood that's a better fit for the Craft & Crust concept. The company, of course, plans to open new stores. The chain will stick to its existing footprint of the Southeast, with target markets including large suburbs and college towns like Oxford, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., Rotolo Sr. says. Much of this future growth will come through franchis- ing, and Rotolo's is seeking owner/operators looking to open two to four stores. While restaurant industry experience is a plus, first and foremost, franchisees should be a cultural fit, with a commitment to implementing Craft & Crust's high-touch processes. The brand, says Rotolo Sr., needs to be consistent. It can't change location to location. This commitment to the company's processes and ap- proach to the new Rotolo's Craft & Crust only makes sense. It is, after all, a vibe, an experience that the chain most wanted to create through this redesign, Rotolo Sr. says. "We increased the quality of the food through some of the appli- ances we use and through some of the preparations that we do. I think our menu has advanced along with our interior design. It's really created exactly what we wanted. It's a really cool vibe. It's a lot of fun to hang out at Rotolo's now." FE&S

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