New Olga’s Kitchen owner opening new locations, renovating older
More than two years out of bankruptcy, Olga’s Kitchen has opened new locations, renovated older ones and exited some shopping malls as its new owner continues on a revitalization path for the storied metro Detroit restaurant chain.
“It was a brand that just deserves a whole lot more,” said Mark Schostak, executive chairman of Livonia-based Team Schostak Family Restaurants, which bought Olga’s out of bankruptcy in late 2015.
The Schostak company has opened five new Olga’s locations and renovated five existing ones since taking over, bringing the total restaurant count back up to 27.
Several of the new locations replaced Olga’s that were in shopping malls, including Southland Center and Monroe Mall. Malls were once hot locations for Olga’s, but as foot traffic inside many malls dwindled, so did business at some of the restaurants.
The newly opened Taylor location showcases many of the recent changes made to Olga’s Kitchen by Schostak Family Restaurants.
It is at the corner of a strip mall along Eureka Road, having moved out of nearby Southland Center mall. The new restaurant is more visible to new customers and more accessible to Olga’s regulars, including those who come in a hurry to pick up carryout orders.
The Taylor restaurant also features the new Olga’s Kitchen interior design and logos. The centerpiece is the open kitchen itself, which was moved up from the back of the restaurant toward the front, where customers can see it.
“We want people who walk into these restaurants to feel as though they’re walking into Olga’s kitchen,” Schostak said, referring to restaurant namesake Olga Loizon, now 91, who opened the first Olga’s in 1970 and still makes regular appearances.
“If you walked into the older restaurants or the one that was in Southland, you wouldn’t even see the kitchen,” he added.
The changes pleased Latrisha McGill, 21, of Detroit, who joined family members at the Taylor restaurant on a recent afternoon for a late lunch of Olga’s pitas and flavorful “snackers” bread. She said she prefers the layout of the new restaurant to that of the old one that was in Southland mall.
“It’s bigger and newer and they have a nice design,” McGill said.
lga’s Kitchen plans to eventually relocate most of its still-existing mall locations, with exceptions for the newly renovated Olga’s in Westland Shopping Center and Laurel Park Place malls. It also hopes to re-enter some cities that it recently left, such as Toledo.
Olga’s Kitchen had 35 restaurants – many of them underperforming – before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015.
Team Schostak, which had profitably run 11 of those Olga’s as part of a 50/50 venture, acquired the entire Troy-based chain in a bankruptcy auction late that year. The Schostak bid was equal to about $11.25 million.
Since then, Team Schostak has stepped up training for Olga’s employees and managers and brought back Loizon’s original recipes for popular Olga’s dishes, including the spinach and cheese pies and orange cream coolers. The chain had been using modified versions of those recipes to save money on ingredients.
Team Schostak also hired an executive chef for the chain to keep the menu interesting “and really go after the culinary experience at Olga’s,” Mark Schostak said.
Olga’s also returned to local television in 2017 with its first TV ads in years.
“It’s been a busy two years,” Schostak said.
In addition to Olga’s Kitchen, Team Schostak Family Restaurants also owns various Applebee’s, Del Taco and MOD Pizza restaurants.
Posted By: Detroit Free Press on March 27, 2018. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
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