Friday, January 26, 2024

[EXCLUSIVE] New Fast Casual Italian Looks to Find Success Where Others Have Not

Stop us if you've heard this one before: A new restaurant is looking to revolutionize quick-serve Italian fare and without having a single location open, seems to be preparing to franchise.  Pochino Italy, described as a fast-casual Italian eatery, will be looking to do just that when it opens later this year in Kennesaw.  

The debut location will be situated at 600 Chastain Road #416, in a 1,742 square foot space most recently home to 1000 Degrees Pizza, a "me too" build-your-own pizza franchise that has now closed all three of its Atlanta area units.  

The Village at Town Park, the center where the new eatery is opening, is already home to a host of popular restaurants including Taco Mac, Chick-fil-A, Willy's Mexicana Grill, and Panera and is also less than two miles from the campus of Kennesaw State University.  All of these attributes likely contributed to the appeal of the center and area to launch the brand.  

According to the restaurant's website: 

"Pochino Italy is not just a restaurant; it is a celebration of Italy's rich culinary heritage. We take pride in serving an authentic Italian menu that showcases the diverse flavors and regional specialties of Italy. From the first bite to the last, every dish tells a story of passion, tradition, and the finest ingredients. Our commitment to authenticity and quality ensures that your dining experience is nothing short of exceptional." 

The restaurant will feature "homemade pasta made fresh daily" where "sauces are carefully crafted with the freshest ingredients imported from Italy."  

Aside from the food, Pochino makes some bold promises regarding the experience one can expect if patronizing the business.  

"But our dedication doesn't stop at the food. We believe that creating a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere is just as important as the dishes we serve. When you step into Pochino Italy, you are greeted with warm smiles and an ambiance that reflects the warmth and hospitality of Italian culture. Whether you choose to dine in and savor the Italian charm or opt for the convenience of take-out, we strive to make every visit a memorable one."

Given the labor market today, especially in food service, it will be very interesting to see what incentives the restaurant offers in order to attract such stellar employees.  

Also worth noting is that the restaurant's main menu - fresh made pasta, "pinsa" (a Roman-style pizza), and gelato is not unlike several other concepts that have tried to do similar things only to drastically shrink in size or close entirely.  

Jennifer Erdman, Giuseppe Barbera, and Samuel Lundy are listed as co-founders of the new concept with Erdmam from a non-restaurant marketing background, and Barbera and Lundy both with extensive restaurant experience, according to their respective LinkedIn pages.  

Multiple concepts, including Rize Artisan Pizza and The Local Pizzaiolo opened two locations in metro Atlanta, promised several more, and then closed after less than one and two years, respectively.  Atlanta-based FIGO, too, is a shell of its former self.  Launched in Atlanta in 2002, the fresh pasta shop grew to about ten locations around metro Atlanta, but today operates just one standard restaurant in addition to a food truck often found in Little 5 Points.  Artuzzi's Italian Kitchen, another Atlanta-based concept, quickly grew to ten locations with dozens more planned, only to close down everything.   

Amazingly, with location one still at least a month from opening, there is already a franchising tab on the Pochino website.  Although when clicked it says "Coming Soon," the fact that there is already a franchising tab is odd, given the concept is far from a proven success.  

The Pochino Facebook page suggests that the restaurant has been in the works since at least October 2022, when the company indicated it was "coming to the Greater Metro Atlanta Area in 2023."

According to a source familiar with the restaurant's plans, Pochino plans to open as soon as February but it's likely the opening will be pushed. 

Do Pochino's planned offerings excite you?  Do you think Pochino can execute well on all that they have planned?  Will Pochino be successful?

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to a quick pasta place! I miss Fazzoli’s and always go to Noodles & Company when I’m traveling somewhere that has them.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Ponko Chicken story. Franchised too early. Slow death because franchisor is clueless and wasn’t ready.

Anonymous said...

I wish they would bring back/grow Fazoli's in the Marietta area.

Anonymous said...

FIGO was never good. It just had no competition.

Anonymous said...

I’m familiar with this project and the people involved…..from what I know, they have a great team and a solid plan for executing a delicious and affordable meal….ultimately, time will tell, I’m def going to give it a try and wish them the best on the venture though.

Anonymous said...

it feels the Ponco is very successful. They have about 10 locations now, and very diversely spread out. I only know of one location that fails and that was at Chastain, it just did not get traction right next to Chick-fil-A. Their tenders from Panko are sup Superior to those from Chick-fil-A. If you haven’t tried it go for it make sure they give you the sauce on the side cause when they spray it it on it’s a little too salty. The chicken taste great on its own

Carl Muth said...

The restaurant will feature "homemade pasta made fresh daily" where "sauces are carefully crafted with the freshest ingredients imported from Italy."

Just wait until they see their Food and Labor Cost! If the owner reads this, reach out to me and I can probably help you...

Anonymous said...

Yes you can get their ingredients at Walmart

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