Italy Emerges as Ripe Market for Johnny Rockets
Giangiacomo Groppetti, Johnny Rockets' franchisee in Italy.
Giangiacomo Groppetti opened the first Johnny Rockets restaurant in Rome in September, his fourth in Italy in four years, and the franchisee says consumers are enjoying “the original American experience” of the malt shop brand—and the market is growing.
“Some of our locations have exceeded our expectations, while others are following the budget expectations,” said Groppetti, who has a real estate background that includes selling and renting restaurant locations. “We have noticed in the latest few months that our competitors are investing in Italy, both in mall and free-standing locations—this indicates that the market is growing. We don’t want to compete with major businesses, such as McDonald’s or Burger King, but we are sure we can establish ourselves as a leader in the casual diner category.”
Italians, he noted, spend 36 percent of their food budget on dining out, and in the last 15 years millions of people have changed their eating habits and are choosing to dine out for lunch.
“If we combine this data with the appeal of American brands on Italian consumers, we can see how Johnny Rockets can be—and has been—a successful investment,” said Groppetti.
Highlighting the food quality at Johnny Rockets, along with its “American origins and spirit,” have been crucial to the brand’s success in Italy. Locations in malls and shopping centers increase the brand’s exposure to potential customers, noted Groppetti, with freestanding restaurants also being considered for future locations.
The financial strength of his Groppetti Holding group has of course been a “major asset” in developing Johnny Rockets in Italy, said Groppetti, but the “enthusiasim and strong commitment to the brand” are equally important.
“From the very first moment we felt we were brand ambassadors, keeping high the image of Johnny Rockets in Europe, where we were the first to open a restaurant of this brand,” he said.
Read more about Johnny Rockets’ international growth in the January issue of Franchise Times.