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Igniting Great Wraps Grill’s Growth Spurt


For restaurant chains to remain relevant, they must continue to adapt their menus and the locations they serve in order to remain top of mind with customers from all generations. Through its willingness to transition what can be considered non-traditional locations for the chain and a new partnership with Aramark, Great Wraps Grill may be poised for a growth spurt.

Indeed, 2015 represents a transitional year for the 20-year-old fast-casual concept. In March, Great Wraps Grill announced locations in Atlanta, St. Louis and Salt Lake City airports. And later this year Great Wraps Grill will open its first college-based location in partnership with Aramark. The chain hopes to expand to medical centers and hospitals, too, opening a combined 50 locations in these market segments during the next two years, according to CEO Mark Kaplan.

The menu at Great Wraps Grill consists of chef-driven wraps, cheesesteaks, bowls, sides and smoothies, all ranging between 600 and 800 calories. In some instances, Great Wraps Grill will offer a full, from-scratch breakfast until 9 a.m. The breakfast menu includes French toast, pancakes and even egg sandwiches. The pancake platter is the number one seller, according to Kaplan.

“We come from the healthy positioning, but healthy-only does not a brand make. What people want first is taste and flavor,” Kaplan said. “Our recipes are chef driven. Everything is hot off the grill and cooked fresh.”

Great Wraps Grill operates from a very flexible prototype that can range in size from 350 square feet with shared seating to 1,200 square feet with its own seating. Locations measuring 750 square feet that share seating with other concepts, such as in a food court, tend to be Great Wraps Grill’s sweet spot. For the college location opening later this fall, Great Wraps Grill’s footprint will lean toward the larger end of this range and include a smoothie concept, Kaplan said.

The equipment package at Great Wraps Grill tends to be pretty straightforward and relies heavily on such key items as a grill, fryer and cold food holding. The concept also strives to make effective use of labor. The average location begins the day with five employees, which takes the restaurant through lunch, its busiest daypart, according to Kaplan. During slower afternoon periods, staffing drops down to two people before ramping back up to four during the dinner rush.

In addition, each staff member has very specific roles and responsibilities. “Too much labor means too much cost. So we have it down to a science,” Kaplan adds. “We want the customer to have the very best product the best way we can create.”

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