Crossing International Borders– Foreign Brands Expand Into the US Market

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What do the restaurants Giraffas, Salsa Fiesta, 100 Montaditos, and Nando's Peri Peri all have in common? Other than festive names, they also are bringing their take on popular international cuisine to the US. With each of these restaurants opening more and more locations in the US, North Americans are eager to consume such international flavors.

A clever tactic that several of these chains have implemented into their international expansion plans, is known as Centralized Launch Planning. This is when a company starts an expansion by launching a few restaurants in concentrated areas. This allows them to test the success of business model in the US. With this market feedback, restaurant operators can leverage this insight to determine if and where to further develop the businesses around the country.  

Lets take a closer look at theses chains–

Giraffas: Sticking Their Necks Out First in South Florida

The Brazilian Western chain, Giraffas was founded in 1981 but only first arrived in the US in 2011. Currently, there are roughly 400 Giraffas locations in Brazil. According to the Giraffas US CEO João Barbosa, the restaurants are in a category of its own. Unlike the fast-serve style restaurants in Brazil, the US restaurants are not part of the quick-serve restaurant segment. Instead, they are structured as fast casual style restaurants to appeal to the North American consumer. The US menu consists of primarily steaks, burgers, and salads, but with a Brazilian twist.

When deciding where they should launch their initial US endeavor, South Florida was the most natural and logical choice due to the large Brazilian community. Today there are 11 locations and not just in South Florida. This Giraffe is migrating to central Florida with a few locations in Orlando.

100 Montaditos: Mini Food with Major Taste

This chain originated in Spain in 2000 and is further along with their US expansion. Like Giraffas, they launched their US chains in Miami, Florida and now have developed a solid niche in South Florida. However, they have also settled in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and will soon be expanding with a location in Washington, DC.

A Montadito is a spanish styled, tapa-sized roll. The name 100 Montaditos comes from their menu which consists of 100 mini sandwich options all including various quality ingredients. They also offer beverages such as white or red wine sangria. This dining experience has resonated with North Americans; they are able to get a true taste of Spain without having to travel across the world.  

Salsa Fiesta: Pioneers of Fast Casual Mexican

In 2009, this restaurant chain established five Salsa Fiesta quick-serve restaurants first in Venezuela. They decided to open the first fast casual store in Miami, Florida. This Mexican fast casual option seems to appeal to the Florida consumers and building on its success, they quickly opened two more restaurant locations in South Florida.

The restaurants features a contemporary interior design that mimics the atmosphere of a fine dining restaurant. The Mexican cuisine menu is made up of gourmet burritos, tacos, torta, salads, soups, and homemade salsa. This brand is becoming a pioneer in the fast casual restaurant segment. They aim to provide exceptional customer service in a aesthetically pleasing dining experience, while providing “fresh and satisfying Mexican flavors” to their customers.

Nando’s Peri- Peri Hatches in the US

Nando’s is a South African casual dining restaurant that was founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987. This chain grew wildly popular due to their fiery African Bird’s Eye Chilli. This is “no ordinary” hot sauce and is used primarily on their chicken dishes.

This chain is available globally in roughly 30 countries. The US chain, Nando’s Peri- Peri first launched in DC but has expanded to Virginia and Maryland with 18 stores. The menu features chicken, sandwiches, pitas, wraps, and salads, which are paired with an array of sauces to spice things up. The restaurant design is innovative, yet warm and features South African artwork.

According to the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI,) 48% of millennials favor new restaurant experiences over traditional brands. This is evident with the expansion of these chains in the US. Also, it seems that North American appetites for international flavors are growing. It will be interesting to see what influences in cuisine these chains will be making worldwide.