How Naf Naf Grill Plans to Conquer the Middle-Eastern Fast Casual Food Space

The fast casual segment is no longer just reserved for Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Shake Shack.

The better-burger sector gets more saturated every day with multiple chains out there serving up burgers, fries and hot dogs like Smashburger, Five Guys, and Burgerfi.

There are even more pizza concepts for consumers to pick from like Mod Pizza, Blaze Pizza, PizzaRev, &pizza, Uncle Maddio's, and Pieology.

As more of these chains immerse the market, the more intriguing fast casual concepts serving rarer cuisines become.

Today's American foodies are on the lookout to try something new. Enter Middle Eastern cuisine.

The fast casual chain Naf Naf Grill is leading the way in this sector and is bringing Middle Eastern cuisine to the masses.

The menu consists of items like pita sandwiches, falafel, hummus, veggie feasts, and salads– all appealing to vegetarians and vegans.

Although these menu items are similar to those of the Mediterranean cuisine, Naf Naf plans to conquer the Middle-Eastern market in the U.S.

"There’s a lot of competition in the Mediterranean space. You won’t find all kinds of lettuce, feta cheese and olives in our concept. We are known for falafel, chicken shawarma and pita. These three menu items are made fresh in–house every day. Our goal is that consumers fall in love with the freshness, healthiness and flavors that they may not have tried before," said Paul Damico, who was named CEO of Naf Naf Grill in 2017 to "Forbes."

Naf Naf Grill has an aggressive growth plan and intends to achieve it by ramping up franchising in 2019.

In 2017, the company's sales spiked by 58 percent compared to the year before.

Read more about how the chain plans to expand rapidly at "Forbes" now.

Want to know Damico's best advice? We recently interviewed the Naf Naf Grill CEO and former president of Moe’s Southwest Grill to see what tips he had for up and coming operators. Sign up for Foodable+ to watch this video and get more exclusive content!

Paul Damico of Focus Brands — Predicting the Future of Fast Casual

In this episode of Fast Casual Trends TV, brought to you by the Foodable Network, Host Paul Barron sits down with Paul Damico, EVP & Group President at Focus Brand Restaurants. Damico explains why Fresh Mex — and ethnic, in general — has mass appeal when it comes to the fast-casual format, what effects the rise of QSR+ may have on this segment, and what upcoming trends we should expect to see in the space.