All but two of Go Roma’s six locations had shuttered by the time private-equity firm Chalak Mitra Group acquired the Northbrook, Ill.-based concept last year. “Go Roma was an early player in Italian fast casual but the brand was struggling because customers weren’t seeing the value of the food,” says Liz Jones, senior marketing manager at Chalak Mitra. The restaurant was serving full service-quality food, but patrons expected a lower price point [than a $12 average check], she says.
Faux stone encloses two stacked conveyor ovens to give the perception of an old-world hearth.
Under new ownership, the goal was to show off Go Roma’s fresh, from-scratch menu and its focus on pizza through a new open-kitchen prototype, Jones says. “Guests can now watch staff stretching dough and making pasta sauce through the glass as they place their orders,” she says.
The first new store, which opened in Glenview, Ill. in June, also sports a smaller footprint with lower overhead. “Cook stations are closer together for greater efficiency, enabling us to staff fewer people,” says Jones. Next to the kitchen, faux oak barrels dispense beer and two wines—a red and a white—on tap. “We previously offered several bottled wines, but this is more cost-effective. Plus it adds an element of showmanship,” says GM Josh Hicok.
Varied seating, all with a view, includes curved booths and communal tables to attract both families and millennials.
According to Chicago researcher Technomic, fast-casual pizza still is an underserved specialty segment that is growing. Chalak Mitra is building another new prototype in the Chicago area this year, with three more slated to open in 2016 in Dallas, near the private-equity firm’s headquarters.
Concept: Go Roma
Location: Glenview, Ill.
Footprint: 2,500 square feet
Seating: 71 indoors, 26 on patio
Key features: Open kitchen, wine and beer on tap, chalkboard-style menu, smaller footprint and endcap construction.