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Before the Mendelsohn family opened their first Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., they made sure they were absolutely prepared. Instead of hastily opening multiple units, the family focused on getting things right with the pilot location, a meticulous approach that turned the eatery into one of D.C.’s most popular fast-casual burger joints.
Now that meticulous approach is paying off. After six successful years and expansion into Chicago and Philadelphia, the Mendelsohns—led by “Top Chef” alum Spike Mendelsohn—are taking the Good Stuff brand international, having signed a franchisee agreement for Saudi Arabia.
“We had a lot of interest from different groups in the Middle East for quite along time, about a year now,” says Micheline Mendelsohn, co-owner of Good Stuff Eatery.
The family signed with Saudi Arabia–based Gulf Restaurants and Parks Company Ltd, Mendelsohn says, because of its proved success and similar family business approach. The company owns 37 Quiznos, along with several Chinese and Italian concepts. She adds that it hopes to open as many as 40 Good Stuff Eatery locations in Saudi Arabia, but initially is committing to five.
Gulf Restaurants and Parks plans to maintain the menu that has made Good Stuff Eatery a hit. “They wanted to stay true to the brand,” Mendelsohn says. “We wanted to make sure that they stayed as close to our concept as possible.”
She adds that some minor alterations were unavoidable with the move to the Middle East. “We’re going take bacon off … and it’s a dry country, so there’s no alcohol.”
The Mendelsohns hope this opening will be the first of many international franchises, both in Saudi Arabia and in other countries around the world. The first store will open in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. While no opening date is set, the Mendelsohn family hopes that it will be operating in about eight months. After the first franchise is up and running, Mendelsohn says, the family expects to open a couple more stores simultaneously.
By James Stramm