Denver-based Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, a fast-casual restaurant concept offering fresh, authentic, and healthy Mediterranean food, announced the awarding of franchise development rights to franchisee Banzo Bean, Inc. 

With the rights to develop up to 10 restaurants in Orange County, California, Banzo Bean, Inc. is scheduled to open its initial location in the first quarter of 2013.

Areas of interest include Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Seal Beach, and Aliso Viejo, California. 

Banzo Bean, Inc. was formed by David Clouse and Bill Gunstream, both of whom have roots in Southern California as graduates of Point Loma Nazarene University.

Residing in Parker, Colorado, Clouse is the founder of Vacation Rentals by Owner, which he owned and managed from 1995–2006.

Relocating from Parker to Southern California, Gunstream has spent 30 years in the restaurant industry, primarily in the family segment as a franchise business consultant and mountain region director with IHOP Restaurants, Inc. and other franchises.

“Partnering with David and Bill, who are both longtime Garbanzo fans, to bring the concept to Southern California is an exceptional milestone,” says Bob Bafundo, Garbanzo director of franchise development and operations. “With the vast accomplishments between these two industry veterans and their enthusiasm for Garbanzo, I look forward to what Banzo Bean, Inc. will add to our brand and what they have to offer Orange County.”

Garbanzo has firm qualification criteria for potential franchisees. Only experienced, successful multiunit restaurant operators who are well capitalized and interested in additional multiunit growth with the Garbanzo brand are considered.

“The Garbanzo concept stood out as a great place to get a quick meal that’s also authentic, fresh, healthy, and flavorful,” Clouse says. “I was also intrigued by the ability to customize my meal and see it being prepared right in front of me. I have no doubt Orange County, with its active lifestyle, beaches, and Mediterranean-like climate, will take to Garbanzo right away.”

Alon Mor, Garbanzo founder, president, and CEO, says, “Southern California is a perfect fit for Garbanzo. With health-conscious residents who enjoy the warm weather and outdoor lifestyle, it is very characteristic of the typical Garbanzo locale.

“We anticipate a very positive response and look forward to offering our signature healthy, fresh, and authentic Mediterranean cuisine in picturesque Orange County,” he says.

Franchising is one of Garbanzo’s key growth strategies building upon the success of its 14 company-owned restaurants in Colorado.

In addition to expansion through franchising, Garbanzo will continue its aggressive company-owned restaurant development both in the state and outside of Colorado’s borders, specifically in the D.C./Baltimore area.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Garbanzo