Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, a Denver-based fast-casual restaurant concept offering fresh, healthy, and authentic Mediterranean cuisine, announced today its partnership with Gemini Investors, a private equity firm based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, that provides equity capital to established, middle market businesses.

“Gemini is a leader in their field and I am extremely pleased to be working alongside them to help grow Garbanzo to a nationally recognized fast-casual restaurant concept,” says Alon Mor, Garbanzo founder, president, and CEO. “This strategic partnership helps position us for long-term company and franchise expansion beyond the borders of Colorado.”

“Garbanzo is a quickly growing concept with strong franchise interest from coast to coast,” says Bob Bafundo, Garbanzo director of operations and franchise development. “We have a very big year ahead of us with our first franchise markets slated to open later in 2012 and many more on the horizon.

“Our current and target franchisees are experienced, successful, multi-unit restaurant operators with one or more brands in their portfolios and in-depth knowledge of their markets. They are looking to add a strong concept to their existing profiles in their present markets and also share our desire to provide guests with flavorful, fresh, and high quality specialty foods.

“With Gemini on our team, Garbanzo has an even greater opportunity to steadily expand into new and diverse markets with franchise partners. We have our sights set on sharing our passion of healthy and authentic Mediterranean cuisine nationwide, and the support we have from Gemini will help make those goals come to fruition.”

“We are very excited to partner with Alon and the Garbanzo team in its next stage of growth,” explains Matthew Keis, a managing director at Gemini Investors. “From our first introduction to Garbanzo, we were quickly attracted to its leading position in a new niche of the broader fast-casual segment that we have long been believers in.  

“Unlike many restaurant concepts we evaluate, we were impressed that Garbanzo had built a foundation from day one to support Alon’s vision of a rapidly growing, national concept. In addition to providing some additional capital for the company to develop outside of its home Colorado market, Gemini hopes to share our prior experiences with rapidly growing restaurant concepts and franchisors to best position Garbanzo for the successful roll out of a franchising program.”

Garbanzo offers guests a variety of healthy, high-quality Mediterranean items with an emphasis on flavor, freshness, and authenticity, as well as a trans-fat free menu. Guests have the ability to customize every meal with items such as pita, laffa, falafel, shwarma, hummus, seasoned rice, sauces, and dressings.

All Garbanzo salads and sauces are prepared on-site daily, and the pita are made from scratch on-site throughout the day in every restaurant. Additionally, several ingredients are bought locally and some are imported directly from the Mediterranean region. The menu features simple and easy definitions and descriptions of each item in an effort to make guests feel comfortable trying food that may be new to them.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Finance, News, Operations, Pizza, Garbanzo