The Ali Baba Chain is Growing, and Has the Cool New Names to Prove It

Ali Baba is blowing up like freshly baked pita bread. Yesterday I was at the Lakewood location picking up the weekly dose of tabouleh that has become my restorative meal of choice when I noticed the menus had changed. The font the menu items were printed in was different and on the back of each menu was the word "Terra," which is not "Ali Baba."

I asked the waiter who was standing at the host stand what was up, and he said the name of the restaurant was changing. He turned out to be wrong, but as I dug around I was surprised to find out how much this restaurant group is growing.

A publicist for the group and told me the new name is a marketing effort to modernize the Ali Baba brand. When owners and brothers Adam and Jalal Chanaa opened the Fort Worth location in January 2010, they thought the name Ali Baba had gotten a little stale. They kept the cooking as it's always been at the other locations but changed the name to Terra for the new spot.

Terra did really well, and the brothers were convinced the new branding was part of the reason. So they changed the Irving location of Ali Baba to Terra, while making plans to convert their remaining restaurants in Lakewood and Richardson. Except the sales in Irving remained flat. Terra, it turns out, may be a great name for a new restaurant, but it won't get more customers to come to an existing Ali Baba. They decided to scratch the conversion process and only give the name Terra to new locations of the restaurant.The Terra name remains at the Irving location as well.

New menus should show up at the Lakewood soon, and everything will be just like it always was, but in the meantime, GRIP, the fast-casual concept by the same group, has been adding new locations, too. Their first opened in October 2012 in Preston Center and already locations in Arlington and in Denton have sprouted up. That's seven restaurants for the brothers in total.

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