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Dan Simpson, CEO of Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, speaks with Nancy Luna on this week's episode of Extra Serving.

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café's CEO Dan Simpson is adapting the fast casual brand to serve three types of guests in a post-COVID-19 world

Simpson says the 93-unit chain, which is preparing to reopen dining rooms in some states, is tweaking its off-premise playbook to accommodate new consumer behaviors.

Listen to this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or SoundCloud.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café spent a year beta testing how two types of delivery programs: do it yourself, or third-party.

CEO Dan Simpson tested both ways and came to the conclusion that both proved valuable depending on the scenario. But, now the delivery landscape has completely changed under shelter-at-home orders across the U.S.

That has forced brands like Taziki’s to re-think their off premise playbook to survive what will certainly be a months long recovery -- where only the most nimble and cash rich restaurants will survive.  

At Birmingham, Ala.-based Taziki’s, that means expanding third-party operators, who he’s found are easier to negotiate during the pandemic. That wasn’t the case before, and he’ll explain why in our podcast.


Taziki’s Mediterranean Café was dabbling in curbside pickup prior to COVID-19. That was plan was accelerated as consumers demand contactless ordering during the pandemic, CEO Dan Simpson said on the Extra Serving podcast.

He’s also seeing a new business model emerge for the fast-casual brand of 93 units: Curbside pickup. 

Will consumers demand more contactless ordering systems like curbside and delivery as they maintain social distancing practices in a post COVID-19 world?

“That's a big crystal ball question,” Simpson said. “The same guests are out there. It's just about meeting them where they are and adjusting our business models to where [if] that means more curbside or more delivery, we can do that.”

As we spoke, Simpson and franchisees were preparing to reopen dining rooms at some restaurants in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. 

Listen to what Simpson has to say on how that new normal might look.

This is part of our Stories from the Front Lines series.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]  

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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