Sizzler Franchisee Discusses Chain’s Growth
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Tony Lutfi has acquired five existing Sizzler restaurants and plans to build five more in California. Lutfi, chief executive and president of Marlu Investment Group, has over 70 restaurants. Among these are Jack in the Box, Church’s Chicken, Little Caesars outlets, and Arby’s restaurants. Sizzler is the latest addition. He said of Sizzler, “We like brands that have been around for at least 25 years, brands that have a special relationship with [the] consumer that have proved to work over and over again, regardless of the economy. Sizzler has had difficult times and it has continued to survive.” After the upgrading of the 5 units, work on the new restaurants will start in 2013.
Sizzler is the latest restaurant brand in multi-conceptTony Lutfi’s portfolio, which already includes four other chains.
Last month, Lutfi signed an agreement with Culver City, Calif.-based Sizzler USA to expand the buffet chain in the San Francisco Bay area under C Foods Concepts, a subsidiary of Marlu.
As part of the deal, Lutfi will acquire five existing units that will be remodeled to fit with Sizzler’s recent rebranding. He then plans to start building new Sizzler locations. Five are planned for the region between San Francisco and Sacramento.
The move marks the first step in a comeback the 170-unit Sizzler chain has been planning since last year, HYPERLINK “http://nrn.com/article/sizzler-acquired-management-buyout” when the U.S. branch of the chain was acquired by its management team.
Nation’s Restaurant News spoke with Lutfi about his decision to invest in Sizzler.
We like brands that have been around for at least 25 years, brands that have a special relationship with [the] consumer that have proved to work over and over again, regardless of the economy. Sizzler has had difficult times and it has continued to survive.
I’ve been a loyal customer for many years, and we felt the management approach and brand itself lends itself to these times, when people are looking for value and experience. We also thought Sizzler was doing a good job of taking care of the customer. Our research found that the loyalty of their customer base is as good as any in the segment.
What is the remodeling schedule?
It’s a complete upgrade of the facility. The consumer experience is improved, but the prices remain almost the same.
We hope to have the first new unit open by mid 2013.
Do your plans for Sizzler extend beyond the San Francisco-Sacramento area?
We’re trying to reach out to Sizzler to open more in Texas. We have operations in Texas and we think it could be a great market for the new-and-improved Sizzler. …
Photo by Nina Stotler