Are Americans turning into Mediterraneans, as news of the salubrious influence felafel, hummus and goat cheese informs food choices? Roti Mediterranean Grill has the key. “We explored what was available around the country in this type of food,” says Bill Post, Roti cofounder and CEO. “We observed that most Middle Eastern restaurants had table service. So while the popularity of the Mediterranean diet had grown, it had not been popularized in quick service. So we saw a real window of opportunity.” The first Roti opened in Chicago in 2007, and the chain has since grown to 13 units around that city and Washington, D.C. The concept uses a build-your-own-meal, assembly-line method of ordering, similar to Chipotle’s.
Four new Roti locations are planned for the Chicago area in 2012, and Post says the company also has leases for stores in New York City. “While three additional markets are being developed and expanded, we are not eager beavers to grow by going to one city at a time and opening just one or two stores,” he says. “We want to develop into significant numbers in each market we are in.” Post says that by the end of 2012, Roti will have 18 to 20 stores open. All will be company owned, though he says he gets as many as 10 calls a day about franchising.