Falafoul plans expansion, eyes U.S. market

Aug. 26, 2010 | by Alicia Kelso

Shortly after the first Falafoul quick-service restaurant opened in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 1, there was an overwhelming demand to add more. Consequently, an expansion plan was put into place by owners MEFranchising for five more to be open by the end of December.

All five locations are currently under construction in Riyadh. The second store will launch next week, and MEFranchising intends on launching a new store every 40 days to reach its goal of five by year’s end.

The Falafoul-growth initiative is a two-pronged effort. The first includes an aggressive expansion in the Middle East region, including in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Qatar; and Kuwait.

The second is to establish the franchise internationally and become the first fast food concept for traditional Arabic food on a global scale. The company hopes to have at least 50 stores open within the next five years, possibly even in the United States.

“We are currently seeking a capable partner willing to invest in the Falafoul chain for a U.S.-based expansion,” said Peter Jacobson, spokesperson for MEFranchising.

If that objective does come to fruition, it would be the company’s first entry into the U.S. market. MEFranchising currently owns Revive Juice Bars, a healthy juice concept based in the United Kingdom.

Falafoul is a much different concept, however. The restaurant serves traditional Arabic food that is vegetarian-centric, such as falafel burgers and hummus.

“We have 10 flavors of falafel sandwiches, which is something new in the falafel world, including international flavors like Greek, Italian and Mexican,” Jacobson said. “We have also introduced a falafel burger, which is unique, and the grilled falafel, which is a healthy alternative to the mostly fried version.”

He adds that the timing is right because there are currently no franchises that deliver this style of food, consumers are increasingly seeking exotic flavors, and operators are experimenting more with internationally-inspired dishes.

“The international market is ripe for Arabic fast food made according to practices that the modern consumers have come to expect. We also know that our food, including the market’s first grilled falafel, will resonate with today’s low-calorie consumer,” said Fadil Alnassar, director of MEFranchising.

The company intends on keeping Falafoul within the quick-service segment because of its convenience and price-point.

“The food is affordable, reflecting the modern needs of a modern society. The food is easy to prepare and serve, and the concept is easy to expand worldwide,” Jacobson said. “There is a void in fast food chains offering traditional Arabic food, and we are excited to make it available for everyone at affordable prices, with good quality and service.”

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Ethnic , Food & Beverage , Franchising & Growth , International

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.
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