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Founder Nicholas Mitrossilis talks to QSR Media about the chain’s sustainable growth approach and his take on ensuring they cater to price-conscious consumers.
The Yiros Shop, the Greek fast food chain that has cemented a foothold in Brisbane and surrounding areas, is gathering momentum to become the country’s top brand in the emerging category.
In a one-on-one interview with QSR Media, founder Nicholas Mitrossilis envisions having 150 stores in the long-run, which would effectively beat out more established rivals.
“It's achievable and we want to do it. We want to grow sustainably and make sure that everyone's having a good experience along the way. So we're not in a rush. But with time, as a natural progression for our company, there's no reason why we can't achieve that,” he said.
Mitrossilis, who recalled having “lived off” of yiros - fresh pita bread lightly scorched on the grill, then filled with a protein of choice - for a week in Cyprus that eventually led him to launch the concept in 2015 in Fortitude Valley, opts for a growth strategy that sees the family-owned business primarily offering drive-thru locations to potential franchisees.
Currently, The Yiros Shop has nine company-owned locations and two franchised stores. The chain is looking to end 2022 with 20 locations. Long-term, he prefers having four franchised locations, preferably drive-thru stores, for every one company-owned ‘flagship’ store.
“I haven't put too much thought into that exact split up but I would probably say 80% would be franchised [and] 20% company [stores]. Moving forward, that would be a goal that we'd like to set. We always want to make sure that we've got company stores because you want to be in touch with what is happening at all times,” he explained.
New stores, he noted, have separate lines in order to cater to both in-store and delivery orders. Kiosks will also be a normal sight.
“If there are delivery drivers, there's a wait on them. We can park orders and wait until there's someone actually coming so that we're always giving out hot food,” he explained. “We try to prioritize the people that are standing there [in-store].”
Mitrossilis says he expects to expand outside of Queensland by 2023. Overseas growth is also on the cards, naming New Zealand, the UK, the U.S., Singapore and Japan as countries he would like to plant a shop in.
“There's definitely room for us anywhere,” he said, citing his travels trying Greek cuisine around the world. “We can be a competitor.”
Mitrossilis, whose first job was at a McDonald’s and grew up around relatives who ran a fish & chips shop, cites consumers loving their food and asking for more locations for his ambitious vision.
“I was a bit out of my depth in the beginning. And then to learn everything literally from the ground up...it obviously hasn't been hard hasn't been easy. There's been a lot of setbacks, a lot of learning. And in the beginning, our goal was just to open three stores,” he shared.
“But then when we opened [our first store] and then opened the Cannon Hill store [six months later], that's when I started sort of feeling like ‘Okay, this could be something bigger than what I initially thought it was going to be.’”
Citing a “big” delivery market, he also confirmed that developing virtual brands is on the table.
“It makes sense to utilize our footprint to increase that turnover without taking a slice out of our own pie,” he said.
Primarily seeing footfall in lunch and dinner, The Yiros Shop is currently endeavoring to get a bigger bite of breakfast and afternoon snacking through ongoing development of their morning and side menus.
Being an emerging brand, Mitrossilis says there’s room for trial and error.
“We always find new things and test new things out and then get customer feedback, and see what works, what doesn't work,” he said, adding the business also engages team members to ask them about their thoughts.
The Yiros Shop is also looking to control costs by looking at beef alternatives.
“We've seen [during] COVID that people are really price-conscious. Lamb is so expensive.
So we're trying to look at different beef options, different chicken options, and really tailoring our menu to be able to serve awesome food at a really good price,” he added.
The business is also working on a new stock management system and invested in a business and analyzing tool in order to “really dig down deep” into their data and ensure they are seeing “where trends are.”
“We're only at the beginning of innovation for what we can achieve in the future and we have a massive backlog of ideas and things that we want to roll out,” he shares with excitement.