For consumers, the Mediterranean segment promises images of olive-oil-kissed spinach topped with sun-soaked tomatoes and feta. For operators, it’s more like dollar signs, with a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent over the next five years, according to Technomic. But the segment known for healthy, fresh offerings seems to be refreshing its image with a hyperfocus on falafel. The chickpea-based fritters are having a moment; here’s a look at chains leading the way.
Spin: The brand is famous for its hour-long lines, halal foods and white sauce-topped falafel and pita sandwiches
What’s new: Originally a New York City chain of food carts, Halal Guys is primed to surge beyond the East Coast. Far, far beyond the East Coast. It plans to break ground on 200 locations, from Philadelphia to the Philippines.
Garbanzo Fresh Mediterranean
Spin: Fresh food with an emphasis on a traditional cooking style
What’s new: The Denver-based fast casual rebranded from Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill to Garbanzo Fresh Mediterranean this summer. The changes came with a new interior design and a simplified menu to increase speed of service.
Spin: Touts its speed as well as its from-scratch, “foodie-worthy” dishes
What’s new: The chain opened in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago in 2009 and has since added locations in Detroit and Panama. Last year, Forever Brands LLC acquired a 50 percent stake in the business and plans to pair it with Forever Yogurt in combination units.
I Dream of Falafel
Spin: 100-percent organic chickpeas
What’s new: It recently completed a brand revitalization, adopting the acronym IDOF, upgraded imagery and menu additions including Greek yogurt, quinoa and organic sweet and savory salads.