By Mario Toneguzzi
Zaatar w Zeit, an international urban eatery franchise based in the Middle East, is poised to enter the Canadian market, Retail Insider has learned.
Mahmoud Sobh, Chief Operating Officer of Zaatar W Zeit Foods Canada, says the company is aiming to open the brand at a location at 531 Granville Street in Vancouver for the first quarter of 2018.
“We are starting with Vancouver in Canada where we will optimize the concept for the North American consumer and then we will open it up to other major cities. The number of outlets depends on the size of the cities and consumer trends within it,” says Sobh.
“We feel that our offering would be loved as we get constant requests to be franchised from all over the world. We have ambitious plans to grow globally.”
Currently, the company is present in Lebanon (where its head office is located and the company was founded in 1999) as well as Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, with a total of more than 70 outlets -- which is constantly expanding.
“Canada is one of the most open and multicultural countries where people enjoy authentic food made with fresh healthy ingredients. Canadians would be great ambassadors for our ‘love’ brand. Our menu has something for everyone. Whether you’re vegan or a meat lover or anything in between; the Canadian market covers the range,” says Sobh.
Zaatar w Zeit means “Thyme and Olive Oil” which are the cornerstone ingredients of the flatbread wraps that were baked in its first forno ovens.
Fresh dough was drizzled with olive oil – the oil cold-pressed every autumn from Lebanon’s organic olive groves – and sprinkled with a mix of wild thyme and toasted sesame seeds. The steaming hot wraps were made fresh to order with cheese and other toppings taking their place alongside thyme and olive oil. Those ingredients made Zaatar w Zeit a success from the start, and new locations opened one after another to keep up with demand.
“Entering the North American market via Vancouver is an exciting milestone for the Zaatar w Zeit family – those who have been with us from the start, and those who have just joined this journey,” says Donald Daccache, CEO of Zaatar w Zeit.
“We are proud we are putting this iconic Mediterranean concept on the international map with a brand that has remained true to its values throughout 18 years of successful operations. The constant demand for our unique taste and flavours and the rising popularity of freshly-prepared street food – especially in a city like Vancouver – seemed like the best trigger for our strategic plan.”
The company says customers of Vancouver’s Zaatar w Zeit will find a menu filled with both the light and the hearty: classic Lebanese ‘manooshi’ wraps, a choice of breakfasts, salads, desserts and sandwich wraps such as customer favourites Mighty Kafta, Spizy Chicken and Famous Chicken. There’s a baked falafel wrap, and hummus dip with freshly-baked crackers. There’s cheesecake and brownies and Z Knefeh.
*Photos provided by Zaatar w Zeit, including photos of Lebanese cuisine to be offered by Zaatar w Zeit.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.