Barbar, the street food popular outlet, signed a franchise agreement with Kitch, a delivery-focused, cloud kitchen and premium store-front operator, to expand its operations in the Gulf GCC region.
Barbar will soon open its first restaurant in Dubai and in other key cities in the region. It will be followed by further expansions in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
“The concept abroad will be focused, as it is locally, on using fresh meat and produce. It is a key element in the success of our formula,” said Ali Ghaziri, Chief Operation Officer (COO) at Barbar, who was the lead person on the deal. The menu in GCC will be reduced from what is on offer in Lebanon, with some added items – such as Biryani rice – customized to suit local tastes. Pricing will be competitive – but in line with market rates. “We plan to remain affordable, but will not undercut pricing of others,” said Ghaziri.
Besides the ‘Barbar’ brand, the company will provide, under the franchising agreement, know-how, training, and support with regard to quality and product development.
A 600 square meter Barbar restaurant, located in Hessa street in Dubai will offer both dine-in and delivery services. Eight restaurants and cloud kitchens will be opened in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia 20 outlets are planned, four of which will start operating in the second semester of this year. Barbar will also open two restaurants in Qatar before the beginning of the football World Cup hosted by Doha in 2022.
The company expects to conclude another agreement with a different franchisee in Egypt, and with another investor for Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.
Mohammad Ghaziri launched Barbar in 1979 as a small ‘Manouche’ bakery in front of the Piccadilly theatre in Hamra. As a family business, Barbar was built from the ground up over the years, introducing new products such as shawarma, falafel, fatayer, grills, burgers, ice creams and fruit cocktails to its extensive menu. Barbar has never closed its establishments and continues to remain open 24/7, even during the pandemic and periods of strife.
Barbar currently has two take-out outlet complexes, in Hamra and on Spears street. It has 100 employees, down from 400 people in the pre-crisis era. It has formed a ten-people special unit dedicated to follow-up on franchising activities. The deal has been several months in the making.
“The technology-led, business model of Kitch is going to be the future of both global and regional cloud-kitchen industry,” said Mohamed Ghaziri, co-founder of Barbar.
Kitch was founded by Walid Hajj and Fahad Al Hokair. They were previously involved in the expansion of ‘Zaatar w Zeit’ in GCC. Its mission is to be at the forefront of food innovation and evolve the kitchen in the cloud concept through a flexible, hybrid cloud approach. The company entered the F&B sector earlier this year with privately raised capital of $15 million. More than half of that amount is expected to be invested in the Barbar franchise.