Tony Roma’s “Polished Casual” Concept Is a Smart Investment

In a casual dining industry plagued by poor growth and unoriginality, Tony Roma’s menu and restaurant redesign has broad appeal

Tony Roma’s steakhouse franchise is a modern and smart investment opportunity in the sluggish casual dining industry. 2016 was a bad year for casual dining concepts and 2017 growth and sales haven’t been much better, according to a LinkedIn article, “Casual Dining Restaurant Chains Are in Peril.”

However Tony Roma’s has adapted to appeal to a broader spectrum of new consumers.

Tony Roma's Restaurant Redesign

Tony Roma’s is attracting couples looking for a great dining experience for date night, friends looking for a fun destination for drinks and appetizers, and families wanting to enjoy a nice sit down meal. The culmination of our new ideas, mixed in with our iconic DNA that has established us as an international name in dining, debuted with the new Tony Roma’s flagship location on International Drive in Orlando. Since opening in 2016, the I-Drive restaurant has gotten rave reviews from both industry watchers and consumers.

“The brand affinity of Tony Roma’s is remarkable from people who grew up going to our restaurants  and the attraction to newer customer demographic groups like millennials is strong,” says Jonathan E. Benjamin, Vice President of Franchise Development USA & Canada. “While we offer the familiarity and tradition of well-loved iconic brand, we’ve stepped things up and identified what the customer of the future wants in terms of dining experience and food, without ostracizing our original customer base. We offer a more sophisticated and polished casual dining experience than the predictable competition. We’ve updated our menu and the design and infrastructure of our new restaurants, without forgetting that our ribs are the centerpiece of our menu and have been for decades.”

Tony Roma’s is the place for ribs. Our fans have been rolling up their sleeves and enjoying our mouthwatering, craveable ribs for nearly 45 years. Today our iconic brand is stronger than ever, with a new restaurant design and a popular new innovative menu. We’ve stayed loyal to the core DNA that has made us famous worldwide, and we’re attracting the next generation of loyal Tony Roma’s customers as we work toward the goal of 250 new locations over the next decade. We offer a lower initial investment than many upscale casual dining, full-service restaurants.

If you are an experienced operator looking for a strong casual dining investment in a time-tested brand, it’s an opportune time to join Tony Roma’s steakhouse franchise. Our domestic expansion is just getting started and there is wide open territory available from coast to coast as we emerge as an alternative to the usual names in casual dining that have oversaturated the markets.

Tony Roma’s redesign bucks industry trends

The generic menu offerings and bland design of the leading casual dining restaurant concepts holds little appeal to today’s fast growing base of millennial customers who want faster service, but not at the expense of food quality or dining experience. By 2015 casual dining restaurants were registering the weakest growth of all the restaurants categories. Lost in a “sea of sameness,” the LinkedIn article notes, the leading brands have begun to mimic one another in terms of menus, branding and even exterior design, “from the red awnings to the architecture of the buildings.”

The new Tony Roma’s 2.0 restaurant design features an open floor-plan that not only is aesthetically pleasing with a soft and elegant color scheme in soft greys and creams, but it is also a more cost-effective, smaller footprint for investors. Our signature logo red is still there, but it is incorporated in more impactful and subtle ways, such as our bar stools. A smaller layout for our kitchen, dining area and bar translates into a lower initial investment. Select restaurants also have outdoor patio and dining spaces with fireplaces and flat-screen TVs as well as private indoor dining areas that generate additional revenue.

Menu updates offer customization

Some popular franchises take short cuts in the kitchen, using frozen ingredients or microwave heating, but Tony Roma’s focuses on quality ingredients, fresh preparation and the flavor of the grill woven throughout our food. Today’s consumers, especially millennials, want to take charge of their dining experience and customize it along the way. Our new menu allows customers to pick, choose, share and customize their Tony Roma’s ribs experience. Guests can opt for a more traditional sit down full-course meal or enjoy small plates and drinks at the bar. Our legendary ribs are also now offered in a variety of updated cooking styles and interesting flavors, such as pastrami ribs.

Our updated menu satisfies popularity of drinking local, with half of our menu of 20 draft beers originating from local breweries within that particular location’s city. We’ve also stayed true to our legendary cocktails, such as our famous Romarita which is hand-shaken in front of customers and served in a signature glass. There aren’t many experiential drinks like this in the CDR landscape and it’s just another way we stand out from the competition.

Learn more about Tony Roma’s steakhouse franchise

We currently have more than 150 locations in more than 30 countries, and we offer significant room for growth in major metropolitan areas and secondary markets. Our quality menu holds appeal for a broad range of customers, from families to millennials, and we fit a unique niche of full-service casual dining that is perfect for both birthday celebrations or dinner with the boss. For in-depth details about the Tony Roma’s steakhouse franchise opportunity, request our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.