Naf Naf, the rapidly growing fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant concept, announced the signing of its first 10-store exclusive area development deal for Central Indiana with Indianapolis based early-stage investment company, 316 Investments, through its affiliate Fan the Flame LLC. This ten-store deal will expand the Naf footprint to the cities of Indianapolis, Bloomington, Lafayette, Fort Wayne and beyond.
316 affiliated companies, owned by business associates and Carmel and Indianapolis residents Greg Willman and Phil Salsbery, have a lengthy and well-respected tenure of operating and advising within the restaurant space. Among its many successful business ventures, 316 Investments was one of the first developers and operators of Qdoba Mexican Grill Restaurants and at one point were the largest franchisee in that system with stores throughout Indiana and South Carolina. In addition, 316 Investments also developed and operated Steak n Shake locations in South Carolina prior to a successful exit from that brand.
Along with its restaurant-related initiatives, 316 affiliate companies also develop retail real estate nationwide for tenants like Starbucks and Chipotle, and also manage a portfolio of early stage venture investments focused primarily on technology and health care related start-ups.
“We are thrilled to be the first franchise developer for Naf Naf. The concept is right on trend and we’re looking forward to bringing Naf’s authentic middle eastern flavors to Central Indiana,” says Greg Willman, Co-Founder, 316 Investments. “Getting involved early with this development opportunity is very exciting and reminiscent of what Phil and I did with Qdoba in the very early days of that successful brand.”
“Franchising is a critical component of our growth strategy and I am thrilled to welcome Greg, Phil and the entire 316 Investments team as the inaugural franchisee to the Naf family,” adds Paul Damico, CEO of Naf Naf. “We are lucky to partner with such a dynamic duo with deep category operating experience on this first and exclusive area development deal in Indiana. We see a long and prosperous future in this partnership and look forward to what’s to come.”
Driving Naf Naf’s next phase of growth, Naf Naf also brought on David Vernon, a 30-year industry veteran as the company’s Vice President of Franchise Sales. In this newly created role, Vernon is overseeing the development and growth of Naf Naf’s franchising and expansion initiatives.
Vernon joins the Naf Naf team from Wingstop where he was Chief Development Officer. Under his leadership, Wingstop grew from 470 restaurants to over 1,000. Prior to Wingstop, Vernon was the Vice President, Franchise Sales at Sonic Drive-In where he expanded the brand from 1,500 restaurants to more than 3,000.