Paul Damico
CEO, Naf Naf Grill, Chicago
Read profile

July 16,  2019

This week, host Jerry White sits down with Paul Damico, CEO of the Chicago-based Naf Naf Grill. A long- time restaurant-industry veteran, Paul was tapped in 2017 to lead Naf Naf Grill, with the goal of scaling the brand nationally. Prior to this role, Paul served as 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 “virtual” restaurants. Paul puts a large focus on the customer experience and the importance of staying in touch with guests. 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 Naf Naf concept?
  • [06:05] – Paul’s interactions with Naf Naf founder Sahar Sander
  • [07:26] – How did younger generations’ interest in different cuisines contribute to the Naf Naf concept taking off?
  • [11:16] – What innovations is Paul considering to spur growth?
  • [15:04] – Is the rise of delivery making restaurants rethink their footprint?
  • [17:26] – Is it worth interviewing multiple third-party delivery companies to find the 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 for a single third-party-delivery order?
  • [22:52] – Will concepts like “virtual” or “ghost” restaurants affect Naf Naf’s plans for franchise locations?
  • [24:49] – As these concepts 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 its 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 www.sageintacct.com/hospitality.

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This podcast episode produced by Dante32.