How did Egyptian Foodies turn from a Facebook page into a restaurant business?
Anyone in Egypt will tell you that wherever you are in the country, a restaurant or takeaway spot is never too far away. F&B is serious business here.
But this arguably oversaturated F&B market also makes it a risky one to dive into. So the owners of Eish w Gebna did something different: they established themselves online before launching, with social media arming them with knowledge about the competitive market and guiding them into the food business.
It all started with a Facebook page: Egyptian Foodies, a reviews page created around five years ago. While this might seem like a typical instance of influencer culture, the group decided that they were not going to pander to the highest bidder.
“As the page started growing, we started getting offers for tens of thousands of pounds to review a certain restaurant or give a shout out to another, but we never accepted,” said Mahmoud El Adany, one of the original members of Egyptian Foodies. “We went unannounced and never ate a free meal. It was all about credibility for us.”
To this day, the page, which now has well over a million fans, remains revenue-less; it offers reviews just for the love of food.
“With our food knowledge growing and requests to help restaurants out in marketing, social media, and operations booming, we decided to get into the F&B consulting business,” Mahmoud said.
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF CHEESE
The Egyptian Foodies team started looking at whether their knowledge could be used in launching a restaurant. The result was Eish w Gebna (meaning “bread and cheese”), and it’s “been going strong for over a year now,” according to Mahmoud. The collective’s next outlet, a Lebanese yet-to-be-named diner, will open in two months.
Yet, oddly enough, the team’s wealth of knowledge turned out to be challenging at times. “We’ve spent over a year just on the menu,” he said. “To this very day, we still work on it and develop it. Just because we’re open doesn’t mean the R&D process stops. We had so many ideas in our heads; we wanted to nail everything. To give you an idea, our breakfast menu has 16 types of omelette, but to get there, we had to try out 50!”
But the team soon discovered that running a restaurant involves plenty of other challenges. “We’ve had everything from a power breakdown in a full house to water being cut and bread running out before breakfast. But you learn something from each one.”
Taxing as the process was, Mahmoud and the rest of the group never thought of quitting. “We had set our minds to something and we weren’t going anywhere until we got there. What got us through was time, passion, and a lot of trial and error.”
And the research served them well in the end. “Take your time researching everything; study the tiniest of details,” Mahmoud added by way of advice for aspiring restaurant owners. “More importantly, learn everything about operations, starting with the source of raw material all the way until the customer gets the bill. Determine what level of operational management your place will need. A food cart doesn’t require the same level of operation as a 50-seat restaurant.”
For Mahmoud, passion should lie at the core of all budding foodpreneurs. “I’ve wanted to open a restaurant since I was a kid. When it actually happened, I couldn’t believe it. People have different definitions of home; for me, this is it. This is where I belong.”
(Writing by Mostafa Adel, editing by Seban Scaria email@example.com)
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