Emerging Brands

Naansense gets investment from Venture Kitchen to grow into a national brand

The two-unit Indian fast-casual concept joins Venture Kitchen’s portfolio, which includes Blackwood BBQ and INVICTO.

Brand accelerator Venture Kitchen, founded by former Naf Naf executives, has added a new concept to its roster: the two-unit Indian fast casual Naansense, the company announced this week.

Chicago-based Venture Kitchen, which launched in 2018, has a portfolio that includes Blackwood BBQ and INVICTO “fine-casual” concepts.

“The whole reason why we created Venture Kitchen when I left Naf Naf was I saw a lot of white space in the industry,” managing partner David Sloan said. “There are a lot of great concepts that might be one to three locations, but do they know how to scale?”

Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Sloan would like to help grow Naansense into a national brand, similar to how he grew Naf Naf into a 40-unit chain over seven years.

“I have no doubt we can do the same with Indian food,” he said.

Naansense founders Hiran Patel and Viral Patel, who started the brand in 2015, will retain their roles as the company grows.

“Venture Kitchen is the ideal partner for us as we expand,” Hiran Patel said in a statement. “Their team understands and supports our mission to be the absolutely best ambassadors of Indian street food and has deep brand-building and scaling experience.”

Sloan plans to work to refine the brand to focus more deeply on the food and culture of India, much like he worked to transform Blackwood BBQ into a more authentic barbecue concept, he said.

Amid the pandemic, Naansense is selling meal kits. It will likely expand its offerings next month. There remain plenty of possibilities for the brand, and the industry, once the immediate crisis has passed, Sloan said.

“At the end of this, there’s going to be a lot of real estate coming up,” he said. “We’re a very small brand with relatively low fixed costs. … I’m always optimistic. I’ve been around in life enough to know there’s always going to be challenges. Nothing lasts forever. We’ll get to the other side of this. And the brands that make it to the other side are going to have lots of opportunities to thrive.”

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