January 17, 2023

Eatery, The Best Restaurant for Casual Dining and Catering in 2022

Arab Finance: Who loves good food more than Egyptians? Egyptians spend a third of their monthly salary on food. The F&B market is projected to generate $182.70 billion in revenue by 2023. Having the right ingredients will make you stand out. But it is even better if you combine foreign cuisines and traditional ones adding innovation and preserving tradition like Eatery.

That is why Arab Finance sat down with Omar Fathy, Chief Executive officer at Thrive for Restaurant Management and Co-founder of Eatery & Otto, to tell us about the journey of his company as well as their unique dishes and innovative activities to revolutionize food and engage guests.

Could you share with our readers the story behind creating Thrive for Restaurant Management (TRM)?

The story started long ago when we observed the performance of our prior experience in our former company. The operation results were phenomenal on both levels: the number of dine-in visitors, and our financial performance. While the restaurant world was developing and expanding into Food Hall experiences, we decided to start with Eatery project as a launching pad. We look to enhance the experience in the near future by offering the Eatery Food Park experience. Innovating and creating restaurant trends was the main reason behind creating what we have today as Eatery. The concept of creating Eatery as a whole was very innovative and challenging. The 800-sqm Eatery’s first restaurant in an obscure location at Cairo Festival City mall seemed to be a risky and possibly an unwise business challenge at the time.

How did Eatery change since the opening of the first restaurant?

We have a lot of stories that helped us change the F&B scene since 2015. For instance, in the pizza Napoletana story, after a culinary trip in the south of Italy through the fields of tomatoes and flour mills, we decided to import all the right ingredients, equipment, and tools and hire expatriate experts to introduce the pizza Napoletana to Egypt. Additionally, Tomahawk’s expensive cut story started after opening our first restaurant. The idea expanded to the extent that we had to reconfigure part of the restaurant and re-design the kitchen, adding investment cost to EGP2.2m. The Tomahawk success became a market trend in the hospitality industry. Evidently, what drives us are innovation and passion.

Could you give us an overview of the company's performance in numbers? How many branches do you have? And demographically speaking, what are the most profitable areas?

Our target from day one is to be financially independent with a healthy internal rate of return (IRR). Revenues have been growing impressively over the past few years, with gross revenues growing 170 % from 2018 to 2022. We have Eatery and Otto branches in Cairo and on the North Coast. One of Eatery’s functions is being an incubator for new concepts and exploring the market by testing new products. Testing Italian food was the reason why we opened Otto. Similar concepts are in the pipeline.

What are the company's expansion plans for the New Year? And how do you measure your services' scalability and growth?

Scalability is a double edge sword; maintaining the right momentum in growing your business is crucial. The TRM scalability process changed to internal organic growth from within because of what we have learnt from real-life experience. Meaning we seek growth vertically and not horizontally, trying to avoid centralization and allowing a clear independent operation to stand out and compete internally for better performance. Creating new channels of sales by establishing a partnership with vendors and producers to grow business numbers within each outlet is the key to success. After the successful opening of Eatery Seashell in the summer of 2021, TRM is building a new 2700-sqm food hall experience due to open in 2023/2024 in Cairo.

Eatery won the award of the best restaurant for casual dining and catering in 2022 from the Egyptian Entrepreneurship Awards, so what differentiates Eatery from other dining and catering restaurants?

The award was a recognition of TRM team members’ efforts. What differentiates us is that we serve high-quality ingredients with no compromise in a casual setting. Furthermore, our design is an important contributor to Eatery’s special experience. By very creative means, insisting on a feel of a raw, aggressive finish to all Eatery design contributed to its success story.

Besides, the Eatery food hall is one of our unique trends. The idea was inspired by international trends of Food Halls from all around the world. We, as locals, adjusted the concept to fit Egyptian requirements for dining out with their loved ones. After observing the market, we discovered that all ethnic cuisines have a very limited survival period. From that perspective, we were eager to serve popular dishes from around the world under one roof. Deciding to move with such a vast and diverse menu in 2015 gave us the market advantage, as our results proved that our products were and are a great market fit. World of food, cooking school, Eatery flagship food hall, and interest in people are what set up apart.

While we are still on the subject, can you talk us through the cooking school of Eatery and your brand “real people, real food”? And what is their impact on your customers?

We believe that a business has a more powerful force when it is empowered by the people and for the people. TRM’s competitive advantage is the people who carry on its mission and vision daily, so our motto is “real people, real food.” The Cooking School offers cheese-making, fermentation, pickling, gelato manufacturing, sushi, pastry, and bakery courses. Creating the Cooking School was mainly to interact with our guests and build a strong loyalty relationship, which led to high brand awareness of the concept. Educating our customer base about the ingredients, the pairings, and the cooking techniques interested and intrigued people to become closer to Eatery as a brand.

How have inflation and Covid-19 impacted your business in terms of rent, salaries, and other expenses?

Throughout the Covid year and due to our internal financial independent policy, we were able to move aggressively towards opening a new restaurant by the sea with an investment cost of EGP 11 million at a time when most rivals and most of the industry were struggling. The Covid year was a profitable year, and a big end-of-year celebration was held to celebrate our company’s success with our team. We were able to comfortably distribute dividends for 2020 and 2021, and that was an accomplishment that we are proud of.

What are the bestselling dishes in both Eatery and Otto? And in general, how much does the average bill cost?

At Eatery, we have the most diverse menu with offerings from different cuisines. We can highlight some of our popular items that our guests always ask for, such as our authentic local Egyptian Breakfast; from your traditional types of beans and falafel to feteer meshaltet. We are known for our USA prime meat cuts cooked to perfection, like our tomahawk, center-cut beef fillet with café de Paris butter, or our hearty burger. In Addition to our Wasabi shrimp, sushi, Chicken curry, Szechwan Chicken, and Pescatore pasta, to name a few, we have our Tres Leches cake for dessert.

On the other hand, at Otto, we have introduced authentic Italian cuisine with an array of offerings from our pecorino walnut salad, gnocchi, risotto, pasta, our signature Dutch veal Milanese, and for dessert, we have our Tiramisu.

Our average check varies anywhere from EGP 400 and could go anywhere to EGP 850 pending the order.

With the growing interest in sustainable goals and environmental changes, how does this fall with your company’s policies?

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles are in everything we do, from youth internships to environmental impact and strong governance with an experienced board. We offer support to our youth, sponsorship, coaching, mentoring, and internships in kitchen and operations. Eatery Flagship Food Hall experience will have a full fledge micro-green hydroponic farm within the facility to maintain an organic food superiority in the green initiative. Besides, we have a Hydroponic nursery to fulfill our sustainable independence in reducing waste and carbon footprint. 85% of our delivery packaging is recyclable and reusable; the materials we use are glass containers and recycled cartons. So, we think the F&B sector can help in achieving sustainable goals.


Categories : tourism

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