The Business Year

Rida Hachem

Co-Founder & CEO, Sandwich Factory

Waqas Hussain

Managing Director, Golden Dragon Group of Restaurants

With tourism expected to grow significantly in the coming years, Qatar's F&B establishments see exciting opportunities ahead.

How did the concept of the company come about?

RIDA HACHEM The idea started when I first came to Doha and realized it was missing a proper sandwich place where people could grab a bite on the go or even sit down and a have nice experience. The first objective for my partner and I was to find the best location in the best environment, which is why we decided to open in West Bay, a business district mixed with a wide hospitality offering. At Sandwich Factory, people can get an excellent Philly steak sandwich, a falafel, a great burger, or shawarma. This east-west mix has made the difference. On top of that, all our ingredients are freshly made, including our in-house, same-day baked bread, and nothing is pre-processed. The concept itself was made to be franchised. The know-how I have gained through the concept creation and concept development has unfolded many advantages, knowing that such a concept would work well in high-traffic streets around the world’s major cities.

WAQAS HUSSAIN We started our food business journey with Chinese food under the name Golden Dragon in 2006. Foreseeing the rapid growth of the Qatar market and an influx of many other nationalities and their business interest in Qatar, we decided to diversify our restaurant operation. We hit upon the idea of transitioning from a mid-range restaurant to a high-end venue and signed a franchise agreement with the Turkish restaurant brand Hasan Kolcuoğlu, which has been serving meter-long kebabs since 1910. We open our first outlet in The Pearl Qatar in November 2016. The positive response from all segments of customers encouraged us to come up with a second outlet in the Mall of Qatar within six months. We offer the real Turkish culinary experience, as all our cooks are from Turkey with decades-long experience. Our strategy is to cater to all markets, with Golden Dragon Restaurant, a food court concept; the mid-range international buffet Restaurant Wok of Fame; and our high-end Hasan Kolcuoğlu.

What are your expansion plans?

RH From day one, our strategy was to start in Qatar and then grow abroad. GCC, Europe, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the US are great markets because of the large population and high traffic on streets. Having this concept being positioned in major cities around the world will create a higher exposure for the brand itself. I am proud to say that not so many concepts or brands have created a model like Sandwich Factory, with different tastes under one roof.

How do you see tourism bringing dynamism to the local F&B sector?

WH The F&B business always benefits from tourists. The government has taken many positive steps to enhance and facilitate the tourism sector. The sector saw an increase in arrivals and numbers of visitors entering Qatar for business and leisure. The average length of stay per visitor is about three to four days, with an estimated expenditure of QAR300-350 (USD82-96) on F&B per day. We operate package deals with the main travel agents and companies to ensure that we receive our chunk of that segment as well.

What are your plans for the coming year?

RH Our plan is to find all possible ways to capitalize on the exposure that the 2022 World Cup will bring to the country by trying to get our name within the World Cup festivities and facilities. We already have plans to introduce our food truck concept, which will work great in stadiums and sports facilities. We pride ourselves on being in this part of the world. Qatar has always been generous to us, and we are passionate about growing the F&B sector in the country.

WH We have developed a well-defined five-year expansion plan in terms of our restaurant business and seek to focus more on the service standards and the quality of our product. We are coming up with the opening of another Turkish brand with an exciting new concept. It is a mid-range venture with excellent food and variety, offering a choice of 50 flavor customizations. Also, our first franchise outlet of Hasan Kolcuoğlu will open in Oman soon. Last but not least, we are entering the catering business in order to expand our customer base.



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