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Nation's Restaurant News: Quizno's Sub sails full speed ahead with fast-casual prototype, new look"

Nation's Restaurant News: Quizno's Sub sails full speed ahead with fast-casual prototype, new look

December 2002
©2003 Nation's Restaurant News

Design Spotlight

Quizno's Sub sails full speed ahead with fast-casual prototype, new look

By Lori Lohmeyer

DENVER (Dec. 30) - Zeroing in on its oven-toasted sandwiches, Quizno's Sub launched a new prototype that highlights its signature menu offering and is aimed at giving the quick-service Italian-theme sandwich shop a more sophisticated flair.

Quizno's Sub softened the red and green colors of its signage and is adding a host of new decor touches to move the chain more toward a fast-casual image.

The 1,800-plus-unit chain's new-store model incorporates a large viewing window on its conveyor toaster, wood floors, a softer color palette and large, contemporary Italian-style murals. New neon signage also is part of the decor package.

As Quizno's continues to ramp up expansion, with a new store opening approximately every 16 hours and nearly 800 stores on tap for 2003, the decor changes seek to position the sub chain as a fast-casual competitor.

As of December Quizno's had 38 locations open with the new prototype design. The company said it expects to have more than 100 new-look restaurants open by year-end. By April every new Quizno's restaurant is scheduled to feature the new look.

"Quizno's new decor is a step up from the traditional fast-food restaurant, although the convenience of quick-service is still there," said company spokeswoman Stacie Lange. "We really play off of the trends, keeping it hip and stylish. We understand that the atmosphere of a store is as important as the quality of food that we're offering."

As restaurant companies continue to vie for customers during tough economic times, Quizno's is not alone in its upscale push. Sandwich players such as Subway and Arby's are furthering the trend toward upscaling with new fast-casual prototypes of their own. Subway Restaurants tossed out its signature bright yellow chairs and vintage-cityscape wallpaper when it launched a new "Tuscany" prototype featuring softer colors and more contemporary touches.

Arby's new "Restaurant of the Future" prototype, which debuted in Allentown, Pa., recently, incorporates various back-of-the-house changes to help improve speed of service and kitchen efficiency. But interior changes, such as a glass atrium, a 16-foot ficus tree and Italian pendant lighting, give the store's dining area a more upscale atmosphere. "As everybody tries to emulate what the fast-casual folks have done, certainly the environment is something [quick-service chains] have to consider," said Lou Nonno, principal of Bath, Ohio-based Louis & Partners Design Group, which has designed a variety of fast-casual and quick-service prototypes. "I don't think [quick-service chains] can any longer afford to have a generic interior. You've got to uptick everything and bring every component along for the ride."

While several outside vendors participated in Quizno's new prototype development, the chain tapped Boulder, Colo.-based Tesser Inc. to execute the design, which is expected to cost approximately $220,000 to develop at an inline location.

Wood floors and tones including terra-cotta, blue and plum all contribute to a warmer, more inviting atmosphere, the designers said. Six-foot-tall murals, which will be reproduced digitally for each store, are geared to help reinforce the chain's food-focused message. "We use the art murals to dress up the store and give it an Italian flair and also to communicate how great the sandwiches are," said Tré Musco, Tesser's chief executive and chief creative officer.

To give customers an increased opportunity to customize their subs, Quizno's expanded the offerings and size of its pepper bar.

To give customers an increased opportunity to customize their sub sandwiches, the chain expanded the format of its pepper bar. According to Musco, Quizno's pepper offerings previously were contained only in a 12-inch bin near the beverage fountain. The prototype includes a 6-foot-long pepper bar with jalapeño, banana and pepperoncini peppers, along with pickles and four "gourmet" sauces.

Although the new pepper bar will be featured only in restaurants that use the new design, Quizno's menu enhancements are a chainwide effort, Lange said. In 2002 the company added a new line of salads and several new subs, including an herb-roasted turkey variety with cranberry-Dijon sauce to kick off the holiday season. Among the other limited-time subs launched this year were a Chicken Carbonara with Creamy Bacon Alfredo Sauce and a Honey Mustard Chicken & Swiss with Bacon.

"People really loved and were very passionate about the sandwiches, but the store experience wasn't as hip or as passionate," Musco said. "It wasn't as rich."

As part of the focus on the toasting aspect of its sub preparation, the prototype puts the oven on center stage. A glass-viewing window on the side of the oven gives customers the chance to see their subs being toasted. Neon lighting decorates the oven's exhaust hood and is used for a sign featuring the chain's slogan: "Oven Toasted Tastes Better."

With the vast majority of Quizno's restaurants located in strip malls, the chain will rely on signage to give customers a hint of its interior alterations. For the prototype the chain softened the bright red and green colors in the sign and changed its name to "Quiznos Sub" from Quizno's Subs.

As stores open with the new look, the possibility of remodelings at existing Quizno's is uncertain, at least for now. The company would not comment on whether or when it plans to revamp existing stores to reflect the new look.

©2003 Nation's Restaurant News

About Tesser

Since 1993, Tesser has been building powerful brands by focusing on the big picture: 360 degrees of uncompromised thinking on branding and integrated design. As strategic consultants, designers, and branding experts, Tesser helps clients create both long-term brand value and highly effective design programs. Tesser provides a unique mix of strategy, naming and verbal branding, corporate identity, retail design, merchandising, packaging design, and web site design.

Based in San Francisco, Tesser's clients include Quiznos Sub, Musco Family Olive Company, Clorox, Chevys Restaurants, Noah's Bagels, Dairy Queen, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Figaro's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Harkins Theatres, Rock Bottom Restaurants, Pat and Oscar's Restaurants, Gap, Gymboree, and Fox Shox.