Brazilian restaurant chain plans major U.S. incursions
By Robert Grattan
Giraffas, a casual restaurant chain with 375-plus locations across Brazil, is bringing its South American fare, along with ample investment and job opportunities, to South Florida.
Its first location at 1821 NE 123rd St. in North Miami is open, said Giraffas USA Director Claudio Micceli Jr., who plans to open four more in Kendall, Doral and in Broward County — a $3.2 million investment — by year's end.
After that, Mr. Micceli said, the sky is the limit.
"We have plans to open 4,000 stores" in the US, he said, "but everything depends on how the Americans will accept our brand and our product."
Giraffas, with US headquarters in Doral, now employs 32 people and expects to end the year with about 100.
Next year, Mr. Micceli said, he plans to grow to 10 locations and employ around 300.
"Our idea is to hire everyone from the US," Mr. Micceli said. "…We know the US is not in a good moment economically, but we believe a lot in this country."
Giraffas has reworked its menu to offer food tailored to the local palate, Mr. Micceli said, but kept its unique Brazilian flavor.
"We have what the Brazilians like to eat, a lot of grilled food, a lot of salads," he said. "Our burger is never frozen, with 5 ounces of beef."
The restaurant offers a "fast-casual" dining experience, Mr. Micceli explained, meaning all food is assembled when ordered.
"You place an order," he said, "then take a seat and enjoy the surroundings while someone brings your food to you."
The US is a mature market, making it tough for new chains to succeed, Mr. Micceli said, but the reward is worth the risk.
"If you can succeed in the US, you can succeed in the Asian markets and European markets."
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