Global Restaurant Investment Forum

11-13 February 2020 | NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky

11-13 February 2020 | NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky

GRIF Content Library

Five Guys, Cinnabon, Zaatar w Zeit - What's the secret to their success?  

Published 05 February 2018

The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF), will discuss with leading concepts how they have succeeded in the industry and the challenges they have faced along the way.  We had a chance to ask Walid Hajj, Executive Chairman, Cravia about the secret of their concepts success, ahead of their session at GRIF 2018.  

1, Tell us briefly about your brand and concept?

CRAVIA is a restaurant operator operating in the GCC, with presence in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, with 90 restaurants currently operating and a team of around 3,000 people. Our brands include Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Zaatar w Zeit, Carvel Ice Cream and the company’s most recent franchise acquisition, Five Guys Burger and Fries.

2, What inspired this venture?

CRAVIA - We are passionate about food and restaurants… I think this is what inspired the creation of the company over 17 years ago.  We also felt that we can offer something unique to our guest to WOW them every day.

3, What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

CRAVIA - When we first open Zaatar w Zeit on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai back in 2005, we could not keep up with the amount of customers.  The response was overwhelming, but for a good 12-18 months we were not able to leverage that response and turn a profit.  The business model needed adjustments and it took us a while to do these tweaks to make the concept work and have the returns we were after.   

4, What does the future hold?

CRAVIA - The company focus in 2018 is to manage its continued growth in a way that is flat, nimble and has the ability to change quickly if needed.

5, What advice would you give to others starting out in this industry?

CRAVIA - Our industry attracts a lot of interest and attention because it seems much simpler and far more lucrative from the outside.  In reality there is nothing simple about running a restaurant business.  So my advice would be to make sure whoever is getting in this business that he/ she has something special with a real and solid competitive edge otherwise they will be lost in the sea of competition.    

Register now for the Global Restaurant Investment Forum and hear more tips for your concept.  If you are looking for investment to expand, internationalise or start your concept, get in touch with Mala Patel for the opportunity to pitch for investment live on stage in our deal den.   View the full programme and confirmed speakers