Since joining Lexington, Ky.-based Fazoli’s in June 2008, president and chief executive Carl Howard has overseen a turnaround effort meant to elevate the chain from quick-service Italian to a hybrid concept resembling more of a fast-casual restaurant. His team’s “Expanded Service Program,” or ESP, encompassed a complete overhaul of the menu the past few years, as well as interior and exterior reimaging and service upgrades like food runners and real plateware. While ...

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