Another national fast-casual chain is fixing to open in Center City - next to another location for a fast-casual chain that is already here.
Verts Mediterranean Grill out of Texas, where it has 33 locations, has leased part of the ground floor at 1601 Market St. It will take advantage of the wide sidewalk along 16th Street. Opening is penciled in for January 2017.
I'm also hearing that salad shop Sweetgreen is setting up in the same building, on the Market Street side.
Verts founders Michael Heyne and Dominik Stein, both raised in Germany and studying business at the University of Texas at Austin, started the company in 2011 and based the menu on the doner kebab, the Turkish variation of the rotisserie meat also known as shawarma and gyros.
After a rebranding from VertsKebap to Verts Mediterranean Grill, the partners obtained $20 million in private equity to expand out of Texas.
Verts' Sarah Pendley says Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are on the expansion list.
"It's the Chipotle of Mediterranean food," Pendley says. Customers choose a wrap, rice bowl, salad, or wrap, and then add beef and lamb, chicken, falafel, or beef meatballs. Next are vegetable toppings, followed by a sauce (hummus, harissa, tzatziki, etc).
Verts will go up against a branch of Naf Naf Grill, which will open in October at 1919 Market St. - as well as King of Falafel, the much-honored street cart at the corner of 16th Street and JFK Boulevard.
"I learned of Verts about a year ago and pretty much instantly became their biggest fan," said Michael Gorman at Metro Commercial, who represented the tenant. "They get it right."