Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Tony Roma’s CEO Talks Expansion at RFDC


The redesigned Tony Roma’s restaurant on International Drive in Orlando features the new modern décor, flexible dining spaces and new menu.

In April, Tony Roma’s signed an agreement with its first new franchisee since 2011, the end of a five-plus-year domestic drought President and CEO Bradley Scher says happened as the company was shifting its focus to international development.

Since that April 13 deal with GEM Hospitality to bring Tony Roma’s to West Palm Beach, Florida, the brand has added new franchisees in Tennessee, Colorado and Idaho, growth Scher says is a direct result of the brand transformation undertaken in 2016 with a complete overhaul of the restaurant atmosphere, service platform and menu following extensive consumer research.

“The company had lost focus in the U.S.,” Scher tells me when I caught up with him during the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference this week in Las Vegas. The menu had ballooned beyond Tony Roma’s roots as a rib restaurant and strayed from strong execution in its bar service. “So we skinnied down the menu to focus on what we’re good at and we also paid more attention to bar service.”

The chain’s company-owned location on International Drive in Orlando was ground zero for the overhaul, also getting a complete redesign to the new sleeker look Tony Roma’s is rolling out across its locations. “We’ve taken that model and shared it with franchisees, all while keeping the Tony Roma’s DNA,” says Scher. Franchisees are looking to the corporate team to be the leaders, Scher continues, which is why they tested the new menu at company restaurants before taking it systemwide. Franchisees still have what Scher calls “flexible consistency,” the ability to keep some regional favorites on their menus while at the same time creating a consistent Tony Roma’s experience across all 150 locations.

As the brand focuses more on domestic growth, Scher says signing new franchisees is important, but “core to us is getting our existing franchisees to open more restaurants,” especially as Tony Roma’s looks to return to markets where it used to have locations.

“We’re a 45-year-old brand, and people remember us in markets where we no longer are,” says Scher. “We have a really, really strong brand recognition, and people like the ribs, we’re still known as a place for ribs.”

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Covers everything from good news to bad judgment

About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




Atom Feed Subscribe to the Franchise Times News Feed »

Recent Posts