Local Cold Stone Creamery franchisees are preparing to open their own new quick-service Italian restaurant brand in the heart of International Drive.
Vijay Dattani and his brother, Bimal Dattani, own and operate seven Cold Stone locations in Greater Orlando with an eighth on the way, and their best performing among those is in Unicorp National Development's I-Shops that front I-Drive, southeast of the intersection with Sand Lake Road.
"We absolutely love the I-Shops location, and we'd been looking to start our own concept for the past two years," Vijay Dattani told GrowthSpotter on Friday. "When space became available there we thought it'd be a great location to start this concept."
Dubbed Blazing Tomato Italian Kitchen, the new QSR will offer a create-your-own food experience that has becoming increasingly popular in recent years with fast-casual chains like Greenbeat, Spoleto, Blaze Pizza and more.
Ten-inch pizzas (individual size) will have four different sauce and cheese options, and an array of vegetable and protein toppings. The pizza will be cooked in a quick-fire oven in roughly two minutes.
Pasta and sauce options with vegetable and protein add-ins will be sauteed quickly in a frying pan, and salads will be assembled similarly.
"We feel in the I-Drive area that there are a lot of dining options, but almost everything is dine-in," he said. "There's not a lot of quick service, and certainly not quick-service healthy options."
Dattani signed a lease with Unicorp in Fourth Quarter 2016 for 2,000 square feet of inline space at I-Shops, which was vacated last year by an electronics store. He then began developing the menu and construction drawings in November.
Interior buildout is underway on the space, with a targeted finish of May 15 and opening in early June, Dattani said. Outline Construction is the general contractor.
Dattani's company should invest upwards of $500,000 in the new development, he said.
A general manager and two assistant managers have been hired, with another 20 full- and part-time employees estimated to be sought. He expects to partner with Uber Eats for delivery.
Unicorp has one undeveloped outparcel space remaining in I-Shops along the I-Drive frontage, a pad just north of Red Robin that could accommodate a building of just over 6,000 square feet.
About 2.7 miles to the southeast, a subsidiary of one of Puerto Rico's leading fast-food chains, Taco Maker, is also planning to open its first location in the mainland United States.
Taco Maker Mexican Grillcurrently has two locations in Puerto Rico. Its corporate headquarters is in Orlando, and the company applied for permits from Orange County last week to open a restaurant at 9924 Universal Blvd., in the Publix-anchored Lake Cay Commons shopping center, just south of the Destination Parkway intersection.
The quick-service restaurant serves tacos, burritos, fajitas and desserts, with its guacamole, tortillas, chips and sauces made on-site daily, according to its website.
Officials with Taco Maker did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.