How did you make the jump from working in marketing in Lebanon to climbing to the top of the hospitality sector in the UAE?
Craftsmanship has been part of my credo since childhood. I always had an artistic mindset with a detail-oriented approach. Trying new cuisines and learning about food became my hobby, which then evolved into a real passion. My appetite for the whole Food and Beverage industry started with my passion for the culinary one. Thus, five years ago, I started working on bringing internationally renowned chefs to the GCC. This materialized with the establishment of my first restaurant: The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri.
Tell us about what distinguishes The Artisan from other high-end establishments.
I have always been fascinated with restaurants with exceptional dining experiences. My travels, especially in Italy, fed this passion. I always had an urge to combine the best of all worlds into one restaurant, bringing together great quality food and a friendly team in a welcoming environment that speaks to the five senses. The Artisan combines all the above. More than a restaurant, it’s a lifestyle brand.
The Artisan is known to be a hotspot for celebrities and royalty, and has received numerous critical accolades. What do you attribute this success to?
I believe people visiting a restaurant expect more than a good meal they need the full experience. Looking after guests and reading their individual psychologies is key to the brand’s success.
The Artisan promotes excellence in the food, drinks and service departments. Our guests should feel like walking into a welcoming dining room, and our relatively small space fosters personal interaction, which enhances guests’ experience and makes it unique and memorable.
What’s a typical day for you, and what’s your managing style?
My morning starts with reading the news about restaurant and design trends, then I respond to emails while having breakfast. Shortly after, I head to the restaurant where I carry out meetings with stakeholders and the team.
As a managing partner, I am very hands-on. I work and breathe The Artisan. I am involved in the concept’s business development and in making sure that the guests are enjoying their experience. I try to interact with as many of them as I can and make sure they leave with a memorable taste of The Artisan.
I like to lead by example and elieve being surrounded by a good team is the secret of a band or a concept’s success. I am in constant conversation with the team, and always try to empower the heads of each department. Their input is extremely important and their level of commitment to excellence plays a big role in bringing my vision and ideas to life.
What are your plans for the near future?
I have always been honest, persistent, and ambitious. My journey with the Artisan wasn’t easy but I held into my guns and fought for what I believed in, and I am grateful to be able to build a genuine and timeless institution.
I am currently focuisng on The Artisan, as we have recently opened in our new location at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. However, I am working on expansion plans for this brand and hope that by 2021 you will find it in different cities.