Recipe For Franchise Success: Amsterdam’s Falafel Shop


Amsterdam Falafel Shop logo

For those in the restaurant industry, “franchise” is a four letter word. You’d be hard pressed to find James Beard award-winning chefs behind the counter of a chain restaurant.


Or would you?


Scott Bennett, formerly of award-winning Cashion’s Eat Place in Washington, D.C. and his wife, Arianne, started franchise Amsterdam Falafel Shop seven years ago for one reason: because they, “never found good falafel in the U.S.,” says Arianne.


These days, Amsterdam Falafel Shop’s original Adams Morgan location in D.C. has earned its fair share of positive press, from Yelp to the Washington Post, heralding the franchise location as one of the best places for tasty late night food.  In all honesty, Amsterdam Falafel Shop is much, much more than that.


“What is lacking in fast food and franchising is fresh, nutritious food,” says Arianne Bennett, President and CEO. Her husband, Scott, serves as Chairman.


The franchise sells only two major items: falafel balls and French fries. Specializing in these two menu offerings allows Scott, Arianne and the franchise’s other employees to focus on making things fresh, homemade and to order.


“Balls take three minutes,” says Arianne of the falafel balls which are “all fresh ground, fried right in front of you,” Arianne adds. From there, the falafel balls are served in a split open pita, which is baked right around the corner from a local bakery. Then it’s up to the customer what happens next.


“In a lot of places you point through a glass at what you want and they swipe it on,” says Arianne of her competitors. Such is not the case at Amsterdam Falafel Shop. The 22 toppings bar is completely self-serve and full of pickly, garlicky, and yummy items that are all made in-house (except for two traditional items imported from the Middle East). Tiny tasting forks allow customers to try out dips, spreads and other toppings before adding it to their pita. Arianne likes that her customers have complete control of what and how much goes into their falafel creations.


Foodies, vegans, vegetarians and people who just like good food frequent the Amsterdam Falafel Shop. It’s no wonder the same types of people with a passion for fresh food, flavors and falafel are interested in becoming franchise owners, too.


Though Scott and Arianne have never been franchisees before, they’re certainly on the right track to becoming excellent franchisors. “We don’t ask our franchisees to do anything we haven’t done ourselves,” she says.


Ideal Amsterdam Falafel Shop franchisees have restaurant experience, “so they know what it’s like to be an active participant,” she explains, referring to franchisees who are hands-off managers or owners.


“We want people who will have a sense of pride in their business,” Arianne says. Employees can’t help but be affected by their franchisee bosses, and the Bennetts want that to be in a good way. Admittedly, employees aren’t making a six-figure salary, but if they really enjoy coming to work, that’s the next best thing. Plus, happy employees stick around longer, lending to the franchise’s non-chain vibe.


“We’re also looking for people who are always asking, ‘Can we do this better?’” Unlike so many franchises where franchisees are told what to do instead of invited into the boardroom, Amsterdam Falafel Shop wants forward-thinking dynamos. “We want your restaurant like an individual entrepreneur’s, not a franchise.”


Contact Franchise Clique if you’re interested in becoming an Amsterdam Falafel Shop franchisee.