Fast-casual Rasa raises $1.3M, eyes second location in Arlington: WBJ

Rasa rising. Next stop: Crystal City?

The founders of Rasa, a fast-casual eatery serving Indian-style, customizable bowls, have raised $1.3 million of a $2.4M funding round, according to a review of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. The review of SEC documents by the Washington Business Journal and its subsequent reporting indicates that the funds are from 19 investors, with a minimum individual investment of $15,000. Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman opened the eatery in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. in 2017.

Rahman and Vinod have deep restaurant lineage in the Washington area. They are good friends and the sons of restaurateur Surfy Rahman and Chef K.N. Vinod, The fathers operate Indique in Cleveland Park and Bombay Bistro in Rockville, Md.

After business school, the sons helped refresh their parents restaurant brands before launching Rasa. Locally, the Rasa concept has been popular. Rasa earned a 2018 Best of D.C. Award from Washington City Paper in the Best New Restaurant category, a Reader’s Pick selection. The restaurant is also a finalist for a 2019 RAMMY Award for Favorite Fast Bites of the Year, another of many accolades and recognition locally.

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The Business Journal report further goes on to suggest Rahman and Vinod are on the hunt for the former Taylor Gourmet space in Crystal City, as a second Rasa location. The move would be savvy based on the Arlington-Alexandria Route 1 corridor revitalization, currently underway, and the proximity to the upcoming Amazon Arlington HQ2 campus. There’s been heightened interest in the area as this month, as community meetings are ongoing to reveal more details of Amazon and landlord JBG Smith’s plans for the area. Real estate developers, retailers and restaurants are paying attention and investing in the area.

[Related story: The Witmer rises near upcoming Amazon HQ2]

Rasa will compete against the likes of San Francisco-based Curry Up Now, which acquired its closest competitor, Tava, in 2017. Curry Up Now has six locations open, an innovation center and 40 stores in the development pipeline, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Curry Up Now founder Akash Kapoor told the paper up to 350 stores could open by 2020.

Adding to the potential of Rasa, Indian street food was a top restaurant trend called out in 2018. For now, Rasa is playing catch up, but it’s attracting a lot of attention as it makes its next moves.

Photo credit: Rasa (featured)

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