Establishments: 10 “feel great fast food” locations in four states, eight of them franchises
Headquarters: Tampa, Florida
What he’s done: In 1994, when Dino Labridis opened the first EVOS with co-founders Alkis Crassas and Michael Jeffers, the concept was ahead of the curve, providing the All American Meal of burgers, fries and a shake “without the side order of guilt”—naturally raised steakburgers, signature airbaked Airfries, organic milkshakes. Now there are devoted “Evomaniacs,” a variety of new locations, and a broadened menu that balances out the burgers with salads and wraps like Bordeaux Bistro and Spicy Thai Chicken. It’s what Labridis calls the first “healthier fast food chain,” fusing the flavor cravings of the burger generation with the lifestyle concerns of the new millennium.
Why we like him: Labridis admits that EVOS would have been able to move farther and faster had it been a sandwich chain, but it was more important to nail the burger-and-fries experience first. “We knew we had to broaden the base and expand the menu mix, but we wanted to get the right balance of taste and nutrition.” That meant lots of research, lots of testing, experimenting and learning—and showing the discipline to fine-tune the brand and prototype (in 2003) before launching into franchising (2005).
What’s next: While the economy has certainly had its effect, there have been lots of inquiries and zero unit-location missteps, with openings #9 and #10 this spring and average unit sales more than tripling, to $750,000.