Amsterdam Falafelshop, a fast-casual concept founded eight years ago in Washington, D.C., has begun to grow through franchising. As of mid-March, the company operated its original D.C. unit as well as its first sister shop, the chain's preferred term for franchised units, in the Boston suburb of Summerville, Mass. The chain had inked agreements for nine additional sister shops to open in markets including Boston, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The concept offers top-it-yourself falafel sandwiches and bowls with the customers' choice of 25 sauces and toppings, Dutch-style fries in cones and brownies. President and CEO Arianne Bennett, who co-founded Amsterdam Falafelshop with her husband Scott, says several more deals are in the works as well. The concept's simplicity and low cost structure, combined with its on-trend vegetarian/mostly gluten-free/street food menu, bode well for additional expansion, she says.

Inside, the stores feature an edgy, international vibe. "We have a very rich palette of saturated colors — red walls, black painted brick and murals of Amsterdam scenes painted by D.C. artist Byron Peck," she says. "The music is upbeat and funky and it's a cheerful, friendly environment."