It’s so easy for companies to stick to one successful business formula. If it isn’t broken, and everything is working efficiently, why bother to fix it? For MMC Catering’s visionary founder Mr. Mishari Al Roudhan, however, success without vision is unacceptable. Alongside a progressive team, including the exemplary talents of CEO Paul Sarlas, 2015 marks a year of change and new horizons for the renowned culinary and catering operators.
Since its inception in 1996, MMC Catering has set the standard in delivering diners a variety of sophisticated culinary destinations that function independently of five-star hotel establishments. To celebrate this milestone, the company has decided to take on a five-year expansion plan that is full of new concepts, refurbishments, and cutting edge developments that CEO Sarlas dubs as “MMC’s rebirth.”
Appointed by MMC’s founder Mr. Mishari Al Roudhan, Paul claims that no real change can be accomplished without a real vision. He said, “Mr. Mishari Al Roudhan is a wonderful visionary. He’s so different to anyone I’ve worked with in the past. He likes shaking things up, and I find it very exciting to work in such an environment.”
With the first opening of Le Notre in 1998, MMC Catering has continued to evolve in the market. People admire and love the company for what it stands for: evolution, paying attention to customers’ changing palates, and setting the standard in the industry. Furthermore, the company is well on its way in delivering its culinary concepts to an international audience, starting off regionally and progressively adding more international ventures to the company’s portfolio.
Paul Sarlas has spent the last eight months redefining MMC Catering’s culinary concepts. This started off with the refurbishment and further redefinition of Le Notre’s presence in Kuwait. He said, “We needed to examine our local presence before we venture into an international arena. It’s important for companies to carefully examine the elements that make a brand successful. It’s a continuous process, and as the company grows with new concepts such as Dikakeen and Meem, we are better able to predict what consumers are going to be asking for next.” With Le Notre’s new look and contemporary and organic offering located on Kuwait’s famous Gulf Road, Paul tells bazaar that customers should expect refurbishments at all of Le Notre’s other locations, turning the current concepts into chic and eclectic designs with food offerings that are distinguished from the brand’s main location that presents diners with a different culinary experience.
Paul pays close attention to how local palates are constantly evolving, and he believes that travel and food trends play a major role in his decision to take up a new concept that would fall under MMC Catering’s umbrella of signature concepts. “Consider Mexican cuisine, for instance.” He explained, “People might want a new taco or burrito place, but they are equally eager to experience a new take on the traditional Mexican cuisine. The use of bread in Mexican cuisine is as important as its usage in Middle Eastern cuisine, with quesadilla’s, burritos and burgers being an major element in the menu, they are similar to Shawarma and the like. The local palate is extremely evolved and people are keen on keeping their tastes up with the global trends.” MMC Catering is definitely foraying into the realms of Mexican street food in the form of the beguiling concept aptly named, Esta Chido, which colloquially translates to ‘that’s cool’. Paul highlights the importance of further defining concepts and differentiating locations to maintain customer interest. Esta Chido is expected to make its first appearance at Spoons Mall in Mahboula and Avenues Mall, with four more locations planned across the country. We’re informed that each location will showcase a different personality, complete with its own music, theme, décor, and even staff interaction. The locations will show versatility in style and execution, and have customers eager to explore its five different personalities.
We wondered about MMC’s interest in Street Style food, and Paul explains that people always look for sophisticated and refined flavors in an understated environment, “It’s all that everyone wants, in the end…a great meal, great service and the right price.” Street-style dining is indeed trendy and fashionable, but it is also flexible, allowing companies to conceptualize and execute new dishes and design elements whilst giving the true taste and experience of the cuisines heritage. “It’s all about the brand’s personality,” Paul added, “People want to dine out more often as a social experience; and when you’re paying KD 4-6 per person, the idea of dining out becomes more regular as it is more affordable.”
Perhaps a great example of demonstrating such success in taking street flavors into the modern age is Kuwaiti-fusion concept Dikakeen. Paul understands that consumers want to constantly experience comforting flavors in a dynamic environment. While Café Meem, for instance, showcase an ever-growing flock of followers, Paul chose to further redefine the concepts, honing in on the standards that makes it work and how it can be improved even further. As the concept is in the final stages of ‘redevelopment’, Meem is taking on a new frontier – MMC Catering is in the final stages of securing franchise agreements for both Dikakeen and Meem in the UAE and Qatar. Locally, Dikakeen is going to expand with two more locations secured for this rising star that is locally conceived by MMC Catering and Meem will see an aggressive expansion across Kuwait.
While Dikakeen showcases the best of Kuwaiti fusion dining, Café Meem arrives as an extremely successful Middle Eastern concept that echoes with sophistication and chic. Café Meem is undergoing a tasteful makeover, where the brand will be serving ‘the best’ of what the Middle East has to offer. “Consider the best of the best from Arabia,” remarked Paul. The flavorsome honey from Yemen to inimitable Persian saffron, Meem’s rebrand will offer a menu that highlights the best produce from the region. The café’s new look is expected to be edgy, tailored to draw in a variety of crowds, especially those of us who enjoy regional flavors in a cool and casual environment. Expect an incredible new look and menu, as well as a new location for Café Meem in June, in none other than Seaview Mall, Mahboula, because incredible flavors only deserve the best views. Both Café Meem and Dikakeen are poised for an international presence, with location openings planned in London after the regional expansion plan is implemented.
If you’ve found yourself driving down the Gulf Road, only to find yourself captivated by a stunning structure just before the Marina Mall traffic light in Salmiya, then you’re not alone. We’ve all seen that piquing sign that reads ‘Dar Hamad’, and we’ve wondered if the space serves as a private home or museum. The design is immaculate, faultlessly blending modern and traditional design aesthetics. When Paul began speaking to us about Dar Hamad from a culinary perspective, we were befuddled. He said, “We completely built the concept from its infancy and up until its completion. We will also be operating and managing Dar Hamad on behalf of Ahmad Al Homaizi, who appointed MMC Catering to undertake this project.” While we still thought that MMC had officially entered into the museum business, Paul explained that Dar Hamad arrives as a Kuwaiti fine dining concept, complete with a gourmet food shop, Chai lobby, seasonal roof terrace and events venue. There’s absolutely nothing like Dar Hamad in the market, especially with this unprecedented take on Kuwaiti cuisine. Paul promised bazaar a first look at the place, and we will be bringing you more on this story in our upcoming June issue.
With Ramadan right around the corner, we couldn’t end our conversation with Paul without discussing Nagwa, MMC Catering’s traditional sweets shop concept. Not only is the concept rapidly growing in popularity, it is also rapidly expanding. The stores’ aesthetic resembles its sweet offerings, traditional yet also infused with the modern. Nagwa will soon feature its own café space in Kuwait’s Promenade Mall in Hawaly, with food offerings of fused Moroccan flavors with a Kuwaiti twist. Nagwa is most certainly popular for weekend gatherings, family visitations and catering events. In addition, the brand has now expanded to offering its products in the UAE and Qatar through Arabesque, the retail boutique store. There is also discussion of franchising into the UAE and Qatar with the café and boutique that will potentially be secured shortly.
No gathering is usually complete without an impressive culinary feast, and MMC Catering is most certainly a trendsetter in its catering offerings. Le Notre’s location near the Kuwait Towers is now also home to MMC Catering’s own chocolatier and florist, where you can easily come to the location to organize your next event with complete ease and peace of mind. MMC Catering’s fully catered services flexibly allow you to enjoy specially curated dishes from the company’s different concepts. In doing so, MMC Catering facilitates the usually daunting task of finalizing a catering menu for your guests.The company is also further refining its catering services in bringing the option of mid-market catering services in 2016. This is geared toward smaller weekend gatherings and more casual and intimate events.
We enjoyed speaking with CEO Paul Sarlas about MMC Catering’s growth, admiring the direction that this prestigious company is taking. Most of the changes and developments that we discussed are progressively rolling out in 2015, with two new concept releases and a new MMC Catering dining destination planned for early 2016, alongside a strong plan toward international expansion. An exemplary team and Mishari Al Roudhan’s progressive vision lead MMC Catering, ensuring that the company stays ahead of the trends and positions itself as a trendsetter rather than a trend follower.