Sbarro CEO David Karam cut his teeth in the quickservice industry, starting work at age 14 at the second Wendy's restaurant opened by founder Dave Thomas and later teaming with his father to become a multi-unit Wendy's franchisee. Now, the industry veteran is branching out with the launch of Sbarro's first two fast-casual Pizza Cucinova eateries. He talks about his own career path, the importance of teamwork and the planning that went into debuting the new concept.
Quickservice pizza chain Sbarro will open its first fast-casual Pizza Cucinova eatery in Columbus, Ohio, next week, with two more units slated to debut early next year. The concept moves Sbarro out of mall food courts and into strip shopping centers, with an artisan Neapolitan-style pizza menu and an ordering style similar to Chipotle and Subway. "We certainly believe in the underlying trend that is causing customers to look for higher-quality food, but they still want convenience," said CEO J. David Karam.
Sbarro will call its new fast-casual concept Pizza Cucinova and will open the first two stores in the Columbus, Ohio, market, said President David Karam. The chain aims to lead in the fledgling fast-casual pizza market, which isn't yet dominated by a single brand. "We want to build a brand with real staying power. We think this is a segment with long-term appeal," he said.
Sbarro CEO Jim Greco resigned after a year in which he led a push to upgrade the fast-casual chain's food, starting with the pizza and pasta recipes. Greco, who joined Sbarro after serving as chief executive of bagel chain Bruegger's, will be replaced by board chairman and former Wendy's International president J. David Karam.