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Macaroni Grill Now Offering Counter-Service Lunch


Romano’s Macaroni Grill is taking a bite out of Chipotle’s book and offering a fast-casual concept

Mama Mia! Fast Italian for lunch.

Fast-casual king of the moderately priced food scene right now, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill is catching on to that concept. The Macaroni Grill recently opened up its fast-casual lunch project called Romano’s Kitchen Counter at 131 locations across the country. Customers can now order an Italian counter-service-style lunch in “7 minutes or less, or it’s free.”

Menu items include a chicken Milanese panzanella salad (Tuscan-style bread salad), pepperoni calzone, Italian pulled pork sandwich, spaghetti bolognese, and baked ravioli. You can get anything on the menu for $7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the menu changes on a regular basis.

The express kitchen will actually be inside the Macaroni Grill itself, and will not be separate.

“Essentially, what we are doing is taking one of the next-wave casual-dining brands from 26 years ago and taking it to what we think is a head-of-the-class of the fast-casual movement,” said John Gilbert, president of Macaroni Grill in a statement. “It’s a fast casual inside a Macaroni Grill. It looks and works just like any of the popular fast-casual restaurants.”

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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill to add counter service

Romano’s Macaroni Grill will turn part of its restaurants into a fast-casual operation at midday in a bid to bolster lunch traffic, the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, revealed yesterday.

The Romano’s Kitchen Counter will feature 12 entrees priced under $7, and customers will be promised a service time of seven minutes or less, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told financial analysts.

“The program was tested in the Cleveland market and resulted in sales trend improvements, with lunch traffic up significantly,” he said.

The retrofit will cost less than $2,500 per unit because 75 percent of the Mac Grill system already has a walk-up counter and display kitchen, integral parts of the concept-within-a-concept, Blanchette said.

Once the lunch service is rolled to all stores, the menu and service set-up will be tweaked to offer consumers another dinner option, he added.

The rollout begins on Monday, and will be complemented by an introductory marketing campaign, Blanchette said.

Mac Grill has been the weakest performance in Ignite’s portfolio, which also includes Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. The company has closed 14 of the casual Italian restaurants in the last year, and president and CFO Mike Dixon acknowledged that the operation is unprofitable. Same-store sales for the third quarter fell 8.5 percent, largely as a result of a 13 percent decrease in customer counts, Dixon said.

“While we're optimistic about the Romano's Kitchen Counter launch, we continue to lose money in this business and we are keeping all strategic options open,” Dixon said.

Comparable sales for the third quarter fell at Joe’s by 4.5 percent and increased at Brick House by 7.5 percent.


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