With the launch of three additional restaurants in Qatar this January, California Tortilla continues its expansion in the Middle East throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Over the next five years, the chain plans to open 17 additional franchises in the GCC states under the management of master franchise, Roots for Hospitality & Services, according to a company press release.

The number of American restaurant chains in Qatar has grown exponentially in recent years. Qatar is not just one of the wealthiest nations in the world but also home to a large installation of U.S. military personnel and foreign workers. Qatar-based Roots for Hospitality & Services recognized an opportunity to bring California Tortilla to the region, given the growing demand for American brands and menu items, said Simon A. Nehme, co-owner of the Qatar California Tortilla branches at Salwa Road, Jeryan Al Meera Mall, 01 mall and at The Pearl Qatar.

“We are excited to open our fourth international location and bring the unique flavors of California Tortilla to food lovers in Doha,” he said. “Qatar is a growing, dynamic and quality-driven market — an ideal fit for the fresh food, friendly atmosphere and customer service that California Tortilla provides.”

Similar to the dining trend witnessed in the U.S., the Middle East market has begun to expand beyond fast food giants like Pizza Hut and McDonald’s to embrace more upscale fast casual options, combining a higher level of presentation and sit-down dining atmosphere with fast counter service, said Bob Phillips, president of California Tortila.

While keeping consistent with the brand characteristics, he said California Tortilla Doha is making a few changes, such as serving food on china and with real silverware rather than disposable options. Also, pork is not offered on the Doha menu; in its place is blackened shrimp  The restaurant also serves up smoothies and ice cream creations, which are not offered at U.S. California Tortilla locations.

“The growth of California Tortilla in Qatar is a testament to the acceptance of our brand in the Middle East,” he said. “We look forward to continued success in international franchising through our partnership with Roots for Hospitality, a leader in the Middle East’s burgeoning food and hospitality industry.”