The Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill chain has promoted Bob Bafundo to vice president of company and franchise operations, the company announced Monday.
The move comes at a time when the 14-unit fast-casual chain is moving outside its home state of Colorado for the first time. Last year, the Denver-based Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill launched a franchising program with the goal of becoming a national brand.
Garbanzo recently announced a franchise agreement with Banzo Bean Inc., a franchise group that plans to open up to 10 locations in California’s Orange County.
The chain has also signed agreements with franchisees in Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas, Blue Jean Food Group has rights to develop up to 15 locations in the San Antonio and Austin markets, with the first scheduled to open in San Antonio this fall.
Franchise group GMG Oklahoma LLC plans to develop up to 10 restaurants in Oklahoma, with the first scheduled to open in Oklahoma City in October. Ed Lynn, a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise operator, formed the franchise group earlier this year.
Garbanzo is also planning to open its first corporate location outside Colorado in October or November in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Md. area, where the company is also planning to open three more restaurants before the end of this year, said Beth Hardy, spokeswoman for Garbanzo.
Earlier this year, private-equity firm Gemini Investors took an equity stake in the restaurant chain, which founder Alon Mor, Garbanzo’s president and chief executive, said would help the concept grow more rapidly. Mor, an Israeli native, founded the concept with Ken Rosenthal, founder of the St. Louis Bread Co. and Panera Bread.
Bafundo, who served previously as Garbanzo’s director of operations and franchise development, has been with the company since 2009. He has more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including previous positions as senior vice president of franchising/development and senior vice president of operations for Rax Restaurants Inc. in Columbus, Ohio; senior director of operations for KFC National Management Co. in Atlanta; and senior vice president of operations for Back Yard Burgers Inc. in Nashville, Tenn.
Bafundo was also a franchisee of the Tin Star Southwest Grill brand, based in Dallas, from 2004 to 2007.