D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, which began as a shop in Dedham, Massachusetts about 20 miles southwest of Boston in 1967, has faced a variety of changes and expansion of the property. Currently, it has 87 retail stores including 62 company-owned and 25 franchises.
It was once bought by Pepsi-Cola in 1993 and is now owned by Wynnchurch Capital, a private equity firm based in Rosemont, Illinois, which has more than $5 billion in assets. It ramps up franchising to increase revenue, although it also opens company-owned stores and engages in licensing as well.
But there is one factor that has remained fairly consistent about D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches. Despite changes to its ownership, it has always stayed within the New England borders and never strayed far from it. It is currently located in five states: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Tom Sterrett, president and CEO of New England Authentic Eats, D’Angelo’s parent company (which includes Papa Gino’s Pizzeria), stresses that it has stayed true to its roots in serving grilled sandwiches. Those dishes include Korean grill, cheeseburger, and their signature No. 9 sandwich, which consists of grilled steak or chicken, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese.
It is also famous for its many New England seafood specials such as lobster rolls, clam chowder, and lobster chowder. To accommodate changing tastes towards healthy food, it offers rice and cereal bowls, salads and wraps.
Its growth, he says, is concentrated in its “driving room. We have strong brand awareness in New England, so we’re focusing on our strength and building our support team.” He suggests that many restaurant chains fail because they lack brand awareness.
Having this expansion installed, it envisions expansion into states located in concentric circles of New England such as New York, New Jersey and Vermont.
What sets it apart from its many sandwiches and subs competitors is the Grill. The grill is what sets us apart. It’s visible to the guest, they can hear it, smell it, and watch it make a sound,” Street notes.
Since it is owned by a private equity firm, expansion and revenue increases are the expected part of the equation. It expects to open six to eight new locations in 2022, including some under its sister brand Papa Gino’s Pizzeria, and another six in 2023.
When asked what private equity firm Wynnchurch Capital expects from D’Angelo, Sterrett replied, “What anyone wants from a successful company: high-level, sustainable growth, with a great management team.” Growing revenue in the future and determining “whether it’s better to sell or do we have the option to franchise and grow” is a question to be determined.
Sterrett says it seeks franchisees who “understand the processes and people, the principles of restaurant business, and have what it takes to operate three to five locations.”
Its dual franchises combining D’Angelo’s and Papa Gino’s Pizzeria began with six outlets in the Massachusetts Turnpike and now number 17, with three more expected by the end of the year.
“We bring the best of both worlds together and simplify the menu,” he says, since Papa Gino’s offers its own sandwich selection.
Co-branded stores will be approximately 3,500 square feet larger. But most of the new D’angelo will have smaller footprints of 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, with fewer seating for dining in the restaurant. Sterrett explains that “we are reacting to a guest request for further fulfillment and delivery.”
In fact, all delivery channels account for 20% of revenue, with a third party generating 14% of this number and 6% of internal delivery. Guests click on the Internet and request about 20% of the time to place orders; Most of them are mobile devices.
Sterrett describes the target audience who dine at D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches often, “Male, middle-aged, buys on the road, 70% of our sales are walk or delivery, often work people looking for great food And quick service.”
Sterrett says the keys to her future include: “Great people, great franchisees who can lead and inspire the brand, and stick to what we know. Customers know what they’re getting from D’Angelo every time.”