Given the fact that another fast casual Indian restaurant is launching in the area, Eater figured it'd be a good time to circle back with Merzi owner "Kaz" Kazmi. When the restaurant opened in Penn Quarter back in December 2010, Kazmi said that expansion was definitely a priority, but the concept currently only has one store. What's he thinking now?
"We've got many options ahead," said Kazmi. "The original is doing really well, so we're trying to explore which plan for expansion is best." Kazmi has the funds lined up to open two additional stores, and he'd like to do so in early 2013. His neighborhoods of choice right now are Georgetown, as well as anywhere near George Washington University. He thinks the concept would be a big hit with the "younger crowd" of college students around those areas.
But another option for Merzi would be to find a franchise partner. Franchising tends to allow a concept to expand even more quickly, but also means the founder gives up some control over the concept. Kazmi says they're at the point now where they could start seeking franchisees, but he's just not sure if it's the right move. He'll decide either way next year.
Merzi is one of many concepts that have taken the Chipotle style of fast casual dining (pick a meat, pick a sauce, etc.) and applied them to another cuisine. Think Roti Mediterranean, or Chipotle's own ShopHouse. Thaaja will do something similar in NoMa this year, and Tom Yum District, slated for Rosslyn, will be a Thai riff on the style of restaurant.
· Thaaja to Bring Affordable Indian, Happy Hour to NoMa [-EDC-]
· All Previous Merzi Coverage [-EDC-]