From Upstart to Exponential Growth with Paul Damico of Naf Naf Grill
Episode 515th July 2019 • Fast Casual Insider • National Restaurant Association
00:00:00 00:41:22

Share Episode


This week, Jerry sits down with Paul Damico, CEO of the Chicago, IL based Naf Naf Grill. A long time restaurant industry veteran, Paul was tapped to lead Naf Naf Grill in 2017 with the goal of scaling the brand nationally. Prior to Naf Naf Grill, Paul was President of FOCUS Brands and President of Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Paul walks Jerry through what it’s like to scale a middle eastern concept nationally, his relationship with Naf Naf founder Sahar Sander and the rise of ghost restaurants. Paul puts a large focus on the customer experience and the importance of maintaining touch with them. Don’t miss this enlightening and information packed episode of the Fast Casual Insider, covering a wide range of topics.

  • [02:14] - What interested Paul in the concept at Naf Naf?
  • [06:05] - Paul’s interactions with Naf Naf's founder, Sahar Sander
  • [07:26] - How did the interest by younger generations in different cuisines contribute to the concept taking off?
  • [11:16] - What innovations is Paul considering to spur growth?
  • [15:04] - Is the rise of delivery causing restaurants to rethink their footprint?
  • [17:26] - Is is worth interviewing third-party delivery companies to see which is a best fit?
  • [19:46] - What would have to happen to make cross-platform integration possible?
  • [20:49] - Does Paul foresee a day when a customer can purchase from multiple restaurants on one third-party delivery order?
  • [22:52] - Will concepts like ghost restaurants impact Naf Naf’s plans for franchise locations?
  • [24:49] - As these concepts continue to grow are we going to lose touch with the customer?
  • [29:30] - Does high-tech mean low-touch?
  • [33:20] - Do Naf Naf employees require special training for this cuisine?
  • [35:59] - How does Naf Naf make sure it’s product will appeal to future generations?
  • [37:38] - Has the marketplace changed how restaurant concepts are defined?
  • [39:20] - What’s the correlation between service style and experience?

To find out more about Paul and Naf Naf Grill, check out the links below:

Our host, Jerry White, has worked in operations, in foodservice distribution, and then in media sales, holding top sales and management positions with several leading food media companies during the past 35+ years. Jerry joined the team at Plate magazine in early 2010 as associate publisher, and continues in that role providing solutions and opportunities for manufacturers and organizations as they anticipate tomorrow’s industry challenges.

This episode was sponsored by Sage Intacct, a leading provider of restaurant accounting and financial solutions. Sage Intacct helps their restaurant customers reduce time, cost and resources on tedious financial processes so they can focus on servicing customers and growing their businesses. Learn more about how Sage Intacct restaurant customers make smarter decisions with critical visibility into business performance by visiting

If you'd like to receive new episodes as they're published, please subscribe to Fast Casual Insider in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts. It really helps others find the show. 

This podcast episode produced by Dante32.