- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

Carvel Corp., the soft ice-cream giant, is expanding its brand in the Washington and Baltimore area as the chain tries to re-establish itself in the market.
Carvel, with familiar products like Flying Saucers, Fudgie the Whale and Cookie Puss ice-cream cakes, plans to add new stores and refresh its existing locations.
The company is targeting areas where its brand already is recognized, including in Washington and Baltimore. In its heyday, Carvel had as many as 15 area locations, but those sites have dwindled to three: one in Baltimore, one in Northern Virginia and another at Arundel Mills mall in Hanover, Md.
"This is a brand that has been somewhat neglected over the years," said Steve Romaniello, president of Carvel.
The company was bought last year by Roark Capital Group, which wanted to reinvigorate the Carvel brand and expand in markets where it once thrived.
The company has 375 franchise shops, 40 food-service locations in places like airports and malls and 15 company-owned stadium sites. The existing locations are getting updated looks and additional menu items.
Carvel's products are also available in more than 6,000 supermarkets, a side of the business that also is targeted for growth, Mr. Romaniello said.
The company's initial expansion plans include adding about 100 more franchise shops in the next year from Maine to Florida and as far as Chicago and Louisiana, Mr. Romaniello said. Carvel will continue to grow after that.
The Washington and Baltimore market can support between 30 and 50 full-service shops. Mr. Romaniello expects to have about 10 locations operating by the end of next year.
The company is looking for potential franchisees.
"We're trying to find qualified investors," Mr. Romaniello said. He added that the company receives 1,000 inquiries a month from people who want to be franchisees, but that doesn't always mean they are qualified.
"This is a fun business, but it's a tough business," Mr. Romaniello said. "We want to sell it to people we know will take care of our brand."
The startup costs for a full-service location, which typically is about 1,200 square feet, ranges from $175,000 to $250,000.
Growth on the menu
The restaurant industry is expecting to reach record sales next year despite the softened economy, the National Restaurant Association's industry forecast shows.
Sales for the restaurant and food-service industry in 2003 will hit an estimated $426.1 billion, a 4.5 percent increase from 2002. The restaurant and food-service industry includes all meals and snacks freshly prepared away from home, including takeout meals and beverages.
Full-service restaurants will lead the industry with the most growth next year. This segment is expected to hit $153.2 billion in sales, an increase of $7 billion from 2002.
New stores
The Bombay Co. Inc. has opened its first BombayKIDS location in the Washington area. The store, which offers children's furniture, bedding and accessories, opened last month at the Dulles Town Center in Sterling, Va. BombayKIDS has four other locations in Dallas, Houston, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Geneva, Ill.
Artcraft Collection, a retail gallery with contemporary handcrafted furniture and accessories, signed a lease for a 5,200-square-foot space at Reston Town Center. The gallery, which will be located at the new Two Freedom Square Building, is expected to open in March.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality appears every other Monday.

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