With consumers increasingly craving ethnic fare, restaurateurs—and fast casuals, in particular— are going beyond familiar Mexican and Asian to appeal to diners with bolder global cuisines. Here are four concepts built on internationally inspired fare from South America to the Middle East.
50% of consumers ages 18 to 35 who are more interested in trying ethnic fare now than a year ago.
Source: Technomic Flavor Consumer Trend Report
Location: Philadelphia and New York City
Dizengoff brings an Israeli take to the burgeoning fast-casual Mediterranean segment. The concept’s limited menu of fresh-made hummus bowls allows it to operate in about 600 square feet. Its original Philadelphia location and busy New York City site—which launched in the Chelsea Market food hall in May—are takeout-focused to get customers in and out as quickly as possible and maximize the number of tickets.
Dizengoff comes from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov and restaurateur Steve Cook of CookNSolo Restaurants, which also operates growing fried chicken-and-doughnut concept Federal Donuts. In January, CookNSolo announced it had raised at least $1.5 million in private-equity funding, which Cook said will be used to open up to six Dizengoff sites, primarily in NYC.
Five on Black
Locations: Montana and Colorado
This growth-minded, Montana-based chain (a rarity) aims to make Brazilian cuisine approachable via build-your-own meals with familiar ingredients. There are black beans and rotisserie chicken, for example, as well as more exotic options, such as farofa (toasted cassava flour) and spicy coconut sauce.
Biju’s Little Curry Shop
The shop’s popular scratch-made authentic Indian bowls landed it on TV’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and snagged the attention of Whole Foods, which partnered with Biju’s to open an outpost inside one of its stores in Boulder, Colo. More units are planned inside Whole Foods stores. The focus: spicy build-your-own bowls and signatures made with ingredients such as biryani and housemade chutneys.
Latin Beet Kitchen
Location: New York City
The owners of Raymi, a full-service restaurant and pisco bar, formed Latin Beet in July to drum up sales during the day, when Raymi is closed. Carved out of a repurposed corner at Raymi, it serves “sophisticated Latin soul food” such as organic arepas at breakfast and customizable ceviche bowls at lunch.