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Sbarro is moving beyond the mall

Oct 02, 2015

After a second bankruptcy in three years, Sbarro is shaking up its business.

The airport and mall food-court mainstay is betting that it can expand with stand-alone stores and a renewed focus on pizza over other Italian hot dishes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sbarro's first four stand-alone stores will open in the Italian eatery's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, followed by as many as 100 more locations across the country over the next two years. The menu will be pizza-centric, free of the ziti and vegetable distractions that Sbarro once offered.

The pizzeria took a beating when mall traffic began to decline at the same time that the prices of its main ingredients, flour and cheese, rose. Further battered by the recession's impact on customers' discretionary spending, Sbarro filed for bankruptcy for the first time in 2011. Then, still beset by liabilities and seeking to reorganize the business, it filed for Chapter 11 again in March 2014. The month before, it had closed 155 of its then-400 North American stores.

By moving away from its food court model, Sbarro's might be shielding itself from declining mall foot traffic, but it is also entering a crowded space to compete with Domino's (dpz), Papa John's (pzza), Pizza Hut (yum), and others.

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