- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 5, 2004

An Atlanta restaurant franchiser, whose brands include Tex-Mex, Asian, salads, smoothies and coffee, is expanding in the Washington area.

Raving Brands is planning to saturate the market with its quirky concepts that include Moe’s Southwest Grill, which plays music only by dead artists, and Mama Fu’s Asian House, which greets customers with “Come to Mama.”

The company’s portfolio of “fast-casual” restaurant brands is expected to have 1,000 franchises collectively sold by the end of the year and 1,000 stores open as early as the end of next year.

Raving Brands has one company-owned location for each brand, which is used for training and product testing. The rest are franchisee-owned.

The concepts are growing so fast in popularity that the company receives 150 to 200 e-mails or calls a day from potential franchisees, said Matt Andrew, vice president of finance.

Moe’s Southwest Grill, which sells items such as the Ugly Naked Guy Taco and Homewrecker Burrito, opened the region’s first location in Falls Church in July. Another location opened in Stafford, Va., last week. Raving Brands has several franchisees signed on to develop more units locally.

Mama Fu’s, which sells Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese food, opened in April in Rockville. The franchisee will develop 50 locations in Maryland, Virginia and the District in the next decade, Mr. Andrew said.

Planet Smoothie has two location in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Va. Two more locations are scheduled to open in Virginia Beach. The concept will make its way to the Washington area soon as part of a 100-unit development deal in the Northeast, Mr. Andrew said.

Raving Brands’ two other concepts — PJ’s Coffee and Doc Green’s Gourmet Salad, which offers made-to-order salads — have not opened in Washington.

Domino’s diplomacy

Domino’s Pizza Team Washington is doing its part to help college roommates get along, no matter what political views they have.

The local pizza franchise is giving $3 off any order from a Democratic-Republican college roommate pair who orders pizza with one topping on half and another topping on the other half, making what Domino officials call the “ultimate bipartisan act.”

Roommates must prove they are registered to different political parties to receive the offer, which lasts through Sept. 19.

Retail Rummage

• Laurel Lakes Center, a 420,000-square-foot shopping center in Laurel, has signed on three new tenants: a 22,880-square-foot Modell’s Sporting Goods, a 30,178-square-foot Ross Dress for Less and a 4,800-square-foot Beauty Center. The stores are scheduled to open in the fall. H&R; Retail represented the center’s owners in the transactions.

• Storehouse, a chain of home furnishings stores, signed leases to open two new stores in the area. A 7,283-square-foot store will open in January on 14th Street in Northwest. Another 6,400-square-foot store will open in downtown Silver Spring. Madison Retail Group, based in the District, represented Storehouse in the lease transactions.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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