ZoÃÂ«s Kitchen began in 1995 as a family-run restaurant in Homewood, Alabama. The company's owner, president & CEO, John Cassismus had turned his attention from his own business ventures to the family business, with desires to build a world-class company. Mostly frequented by mothers with small children and white-collar employees in the area, the restaurant catered to those consumers with a desire for healthy foods at comparatively lower prices. As of December 2005 there were 16 locations in five different states. The brand was strong and synonymous with freshness, home-style goodness and family recipes. The menu boasted healthy selections, mostly with a Greek influence, (i.e. chicken pitas & roll-ups, salads & dinner plates) which consumers could also purchase in larger quantities for take-home consumption.
The industry outlook was good for ZoÃÂ«s Kitchen. The only expected growth in the now mature restaurant industry was expected to come from the fast-casual segment, and as a 'member' of this segment, ZoÃÂ«s Kitchen was positioned well for growth opportunity.
However, it also faced the inherent threat of fierce industry competition. The threat came from many directions; new players entering directly into the fast-casual market, as well as other large players already in the restaurant business looking to grab market share (i.e. fast-food restaurants offering healthier & fresher choices).
In December 2005, ZoÃÂ«s Kitchen looked forward hoping for continued growth in the upcoming 2006 year. It had 3 scheduled openings for 2006, and the company was seeking ways to position itself to exploit market opportunities that became available. While everything to date had been positive, John Cassismus was now faced with the ultimate question: "What next for ZoÃÂ«s Kitchen?" With John Cassismus putting his main focus on strategic growth, his next logical step would be to determine how to accomplish that goal (Thompson et.