After fine-tuning, Olga's plans to expand its fast-casual Fresh Grille concepts

The Michigan company put $100,000 into fine-tuning the fast-casual location in Royal Oak and will change the Olga's Kitchen in Troy into a Fresh Grille next

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

In an effort to offer quicker service to more guests, owners of Olga's Kitchen are planning an expansion of its fast-casual Olga's Fresh Grill concept. 

Currently there is one such restaurant, the Royal Oak location on Woodward, where diners order from a counter, sit down and have their meal brought to them. This is a departure from the traditional model of Olga's, which offers table service like any other sit-down restaurant. 

Olga's Fresh Grill has gotten a fine-tuned and is the model for the brand's expanding fast-casual concept.

TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants, the Michigan-based restaurant group that owns Olga's as well as several Applebee's and Del Taco locations, is planning to expand this model in the next year starting with their Troy restaurant, which is currently an Olga's Kitchen with table service. 

“We had the opportunity, or the privilege, to buy Olga’s out of bankruptcy in 2015," said executive chairman of Team Schostak Family Restaurants Mark Schostak. He said at that time they started to study the Royal Oak location for ways to fine-tune "and revitalize it to meet the needs of the fast-casual customer today."

They made back-of-the-house improvements, sized-down and simplified the menu and offered grab-and-go ordering so guest can pre-order, prepay and take their meal from a shelf when they arrive at the restaurant without waiting in line. 

The menu was streamlined by doing away with some items that took longer to cook, such as the steak and cheese or the hamburger sandwiches. 

Overall, the Royal Oak Olga's Fresh Grille was given $100,000 worth of improvements that also include a new color scheme of orange and green, updated interior and signage.  

"We're really excited about this location and we fine-tuned it and we're ready to grow the fast-casual," said Schostak. "We're taking our location at the Troy Sports Center at Big Beaver ... currently is what I call a 'family dining location' and we're going to convert that into a fast-casual format just like we have in Royal Oak."

Besides Troy, TEAM Schostak will add another two fast-casual Olga's to their portfolio in the next year alone. Some will be new locations and others, like the one in Troy, will be converted from Olga's Kitchen restaurants. ,

Schostak says it just makes sense to change the Troy restaurant into the Fresh Grille concept because of the amount of office workers looking for lunch in that area. He says compared to the traditional restaurants, the fast-casual locations have an abbreviated menu, but both employ around 30 people each and the menu prices are similar. 

There are 26 locations in all, including the traditional family dining Olga's Kitchen restaurants, fast-casual Olga's Fresh Grille and quick-service locations, like the stand inside MGM Grand Casino.  

Mark Schostak said the latter two will still have the decades-old favorite items such asthe original Olga sandwich, snackers, three-cheese Olga and salads, "but it's a limited menu so we can produce a lot."

Olga's Kitchen was founded by restaurateur Olga Loizon in Birmingham in 1970. Loizon, 92, died in January.

Twitter: @melodybaetens