Evos - The New Face Of Fast Food

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A healthier fast-food restaurant business born in Tampa has its sites on becoming a national chain.

Going against the grain of fast food giants, EVOS serves America's favorite comfort meal of burgers, fries, and shakes that have 50 to 70 percent less fat and calories compared to other restaurant chains.

To hear co-founder Dino Lambridis tell it, EVOS was conceived on a whim, after he and co-founders Alkis Crassas and Michael Jeffers drove for miles in search of a healthier fast food fix and couldn"�t find one.

But in reality, the trio had long yearned to launch a business like EVOS "" a company that would make a contribution to society.

"We wanted to build a company that would make a difference,"� Jeffers said. "EVOS is a small expression of that."� The quick-casual restaurant's name comes from the word "evolve," and EVOS is evolving the fast food industry by offering flavorful fast food while reducing calories and fat and eliminating trans fats, processed and low-quality ingredients.

EVOS offers hormone-free chicken, cholesterol-free soy burgers and hormone-free and antibiotic-free steak.

No deep-fryers are used at EVOS "" the French fries, chicken strips and several other menu items are air-baked, reducing fat, cholesterol and calorie content.

EVOS makes buns and wraps with higher quality ingredients, uses organic field greens in their wraps and salads and has creatively reduced the fat in most of their spreads and dressings.

EVOS"� Milkshakes are homemade with organic milk and sugar, and Fruitshakes contain fresh fruit instead of canned fruit preserved in sugary syrup. Many of the menu options are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.

EVOS also has a line of specialty-flavored ketchups called Ketchup Karma in flavors that include Original Americana, Garlic Gravity, Mesquite Magic and Cayenne Firewalker.

Signature burgers include the American Champion, a signature soy burger, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, ketchup and mustard; Freerange Steakburger with hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and Crispy Mesquite Chicken, hormone-free, air-baked chicken breast strips, leaf lettuce, tomato and mesquite honey mustard.

The best-selling wraps and salads include the Crispy Thai Trout wrap with air-baked trout, spicy peanut and chili pepper dressing, long-grain rice, organic spring greens, crispy rice noodles in a spinach herb wrap, and the Mediterranean Summer salad with organic field greens, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, kalamata olives, multi-grain croutons, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

EVOS also offers a kids menu for children under 13. The focus on children is deliberate ""EVOS wants to be a destination where parents can teach children about nutrition and making healthier meal choices.

"Fast food is part of our culture,"� Lambridis said. "It's not going away. What is important is for us to make better choices about which fast food our kids eat. Parents love to bring their kids to EVOS because they don"�t feel they are sacrificing much in terms of cost and taste. Kids know they are eating healthier but don"�t see where the sacrifice is. Society wins because EVOS is slowly dispelling the myth that healthy tastes bad."� Beyond offering healthy menu options, EVOS has established itself as an eco-friendly operator using environmentally-sound practices and energy-saving materials in the building of its stores.

The floors are constructed of green materials like jute and resin linoleum. The lime green and white paint on the walls are all-natural and free of fumes that can be harmful to humans and the environment. The lights in the bathroom turn on and off automatically to conserve energy. Packaging products are produced with recycled paper and menus are printed with soy-based inks.

Balance is a cornerstone of EVOS"� company culture.

"There is a balance in everything,"� Lambridis said. "While there are vegetarian and vegan menu items, EVOS is not a health food restaurant. We are a restaurant that offers food for everyone done in a way that's sustainable."� EVOS takes the same pragmatic approach in its eco-friendly efforts.

"We found a balance in health and taste, and we found a balance in making environmentally-sound decisions,"� Lambridis said. "You have to be a pragmatist, not an extreme idealist."� Still, it's not easy to create a restaurant concept that's organic, all-natural and sustainable from scratch.

Crassas, Jeffers and Lambridis amassed more than 30 credit cards and $45,000 of debt to open their prototype in Tampa, Florida in 1999.

By day, the three founders ran the first EVOS store by themselves. By night, each worked jobs at local fast food establishments to gain a better understanding of the industry.

"It was a big risk, but we believed in this,"� Jeffers said.

In the meantime, they spent countless hours in test kitchens perfecting EVOS"� menu.

"This menu was all about engineering,"� Crassas said. "If something didn"�t taste good, it didn"�t make the menu. But we"�ve managed to marry health and taste."� By doing so, EVOS is providing a solution to a problem that has been plaguing Americans for decades.

"Typically, fast food is associated with regret and guilt,"� Crassas said. "While it tastes good and is sometimes very craveable, the feeling after is unmistakably unwanted. Our food has the complete opposite effect, providing energy, rejuvenation and inspiration. EVOS is feel-great fast food."� To Crassas, Jeffers and Lambridis, EVOS also represents a cause.

"It's hundreds of people having access to healthier burgers and shakes,"� Lambridis said. "One day, maybe we can claim, "�billions and billions saved,"� on our signs."� They are coming closer to accomplishing that feat.

The company has three locations in Florida and one in Nevada and recently signed an agreement with a successful restaurant area developer to open 207 stores in 12 states over the next 10 years.

EVOS units range from 2,500 to 2,800 square-feet with seating for 65 to 100 guests. EVOS locations exist as free-standing units with drive-thrus, in-line strip mall units and non-conventional sites such as food courts.

In the future, EVOS plans to roll out new menu items including guilt-free boneless chicken wings and chili fries, a hip retail line and an array of wholesome grab-and-go snacks such as chips and beef jerky.

"No one has made a fuller commitment to healthier fast food than EVOS, and as a result, we are finding so many opportunities,"� Lambridis said. "We"�re now scrambling to figure out when and how to pursue them."� Additional information is available at www.evos.com

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