Editor’s Note—A version of this story originally appeared in Franchise Times, a sibling publication to Food On Demand. 

Over the past year, Great Greek Mediterranean Grill’s leadership team noticed increasing challenges to development, with rising construction costs and limited real estate opportunities.

To give its franchisees and developers more tools in the toolbox, the brand created three non-traditional prototypes. This year the brand launched a smaller unit called Great Greek To Go, a digital kitchen format and a special venue option.

“We had a successful year of selling franchises and getting some great franchise operators into our system,” said Brand President Bob Andersen. “We want to continue growing through our traditional, brick-and-mortar models, but also give our operators more choices.”

Great Greek Mediterranean Grill President Bob Andersen

The to-go model’s footprint ranges from 500 to 900 square feet, a smaller version of the traditional design which ranges from 1,700 to 2,000 square feet.

“The to-go format puts us in an environment with little seating, but one that meets the growing need of off-premise sales and catering,” Andersen said. “Our in-store sales are still increasing, but the fastest growing increases are coming from off-premise with deliveries and takeout. That’s where we see opportunity.”

That opportunity also extends to its newly launched ghost kitchen prototype. Great Greek found successful similar companies that offer healthy food options that travel well, even in markets with traditional locations, Anderson said.

“Those brands were pairing their digital kitchens in markets where they already had brick-and-mortar stores,” Andersen said. “So, our plan was to look at the markets we already have a presence in, but also have a challenge getting into specific areas for whatever reason. It will allow us to add those areas to our portfolio that have been traditionally difficult to get to.”

The first Great Greek To Go opened in October near the University of Maryland campus, which Andersen said has been successful so far. The first ghost kitchen, which can take orders on the restaurant’s website or a third-party platform, opened in November.

The Great Greek will roll out the third option, a 500- to 1,000 square-foot unit for special venues, in 2024. Described by Andersen as a counter with a kitchen, will be made for existing places of businesses, such as college campuses, entertainment venues, airports, stadiums and more.

The Great Greek hit $34 million across 28 unites in 2022. In fiscal year 2022, ending April 30, 2023, the brand opened 10 stores, according to its Item 20. It now has 50 locations, and next year expects 10 new locations to open.

“As we continue to grow, we’re going to continue pairing with operators who share the same vision and we want to make sure they have the ability to be successful, whether they’re operating the traditional or non-traditional units,” Andersen said.