Nando’s Peri Peri to expand beyond Washington area

Nando’s Peri-Peri, the South Africa-based chain of fast-casual restaurants that specializes in chicken, is opening its 11th Washington area eatery in the Boilermaker building at the Yards in Southeast D.C. The company said it is in the process of signing a lease for a 2,866-square-foot space.

HapstakDemetriou, the Washington-based architecture firm behind eateries like Zaytinya and Poste, has been tapped to design the new restaurant.

Nando’s, which arrived in Washington’s Chinatown in 2008, also has plans to open its first Baltimore location in March. So far, all of the company’s U.S. restaurants are in the Washington area.

“We’re not about leap-frogging or having one location each in New York, Miami and L.A.,” said Burton Heiss, chief executive for the company’s U.S. operations. “Rather we’re looking to build a strong foundation in one city at a time and grow organically.”

Revenue at area restaurants has grown 70 percent during each of the past three years, Heiss said, adding that he expects similar sales growth in 2013. He declined to disclose figures.

Nando’s has long been interested in expanding to the Yards, an up-and-coming neighborhood nestled between Navy Yard and Nationals Park, Heiss said. But during the recession, several new developments in the area stalled.

Now that work on a number of buildings has resumed, Heiss said it seemed like a good time to open a location in the Boilermaker Shops, a former naval industrial building that Forest City is renovating into retail spaces and offices.

“It seems like the dominos have fallen now and it’s going to be a great entertainment destination,” Heiss said. “It’s hard not to think it’s going to be like the area around the Verizon Center someday.”

Nando’s has 1,020 restaurants throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. Later this year, the company plans to set its sights on another American city such as New York or Philadelphia. In all, it plans to open between 12 and 14 new locations in 2013.

“We’re continuing to expand at a very good pace,” Heiss said.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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