Chicago-based Naf Naf Grill, a fast-casual concept serving authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, has secured private-equity funding from Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group. The investment is Roark’s first in an emerging growth brand.
Naf Naf Grill operates 13 locations in the greater Chicago area, with additional units under development in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Its menu offers core protein options of slow-roasted steak or chicken Shawarma in a pita sandwich format, as well as in a rice or salad bowl. Staff bake pita bread fresh on-site daily and customers can customize their pita or bowl with freshly prepared salads and sauces.Founded in 2008,
Founders David Sloan and Sahar Sander will continue to lead the company as co-CEOs. As part of the transaction, restaurant industry veterans Gary Beisler and George Condos will join Naf Naf Grill’s board of directors. Beisler most recently served as CEO for Qdoba Mexican Grill, growing the brand from 7 units to 650 between 1998 and 2013. Condos retired this April as the president and COO of Arby’s, where he helped lead the re-positioning and resurgence of the brand.
Neal Aronson, founder and managing partner of Roark Capital, noted, “Naf Naf has talented and passionate founders, a highly differentiated brand, and tremendous long-term growth potential. It is the first of a number of emerging brands we hope to invest in.”