Wisely since the start of the crisis, the brothers Samer and Mazen Maroun, who together run the Lotus Management group, a specialist in the catering industry, return with Pazzi. “In 2019, our family separated from the La Gondole restaurant pastry shop, founded in 1957: we no longer wanted to manage large, expensive structures in troubled Lebanon. Then there was an explosion on August 4, 2020: our Prune bistro in Mar Mikhaël was destroyed. This affected us a lot: we were in a wait-and-see mode. But last October, after the shortage of gasoline, when the country changed to a dollar economy, we saw a recovery and then decided to invest again in Lebanon”, explains Samer Maroun, when he was improving with his staff the interior decoration of Pazzi (“madness. ” in Italian).
A new pizzeria will open in Badaro on August 23. Fourteen employees will take turns when the restaurant is operating at full capacity. If the brothers do not want to communicate about the investment, they confirm that it is still small. “We already had some equipment,” says Samer Maroun. Placed instead of the Le Dany bar, Pazzi can accommodate around fifty guests, most of them on its terrace. “Badaro is a district that I love and I wanted to rediscover the joy of the first Olio that opened in 2005 in Gemmayzé. »
Until 2018, the two brothers owned the Italian restaurant chain Olio, as well as the Japanese restaurant Soto. Eight branches did not survive the first years of the crisis and the two brands disappeared.
For Samer Maroun, “you have to know how to change so as not to lose: before 2019, the energy bill represented about 10% of sales, today it is about 25%. On the other hand, the share of taxes and salaries has fallen. This is another business model which is being phased in. So the Maroun brothers have chosen to offer a different offer, relying as much as possible on local production channels and simpler services. “The wine list, for example, will make the most of small Lebanese wineries. With an average ticket of 20 dollars per person, the new company is trying to attract young customers, fans of burgers or cheap Asian food.
Other projects in Lebanon and in the region
Pazzi is not their only project: in October, Lotus Management will reopen Prune, with a capacity of 70 seats, in Mar Mikhaël. With a tight menu around the emblem dish, mussels and fries. “La Gondole was known for its mussels and fries and Prune also made part of its success with this dish. So we have decided to bet on the most famous Belgian dishes to sign a good restoration of this bistro”, adds Samer Maroun.
But the real blow of the two brothers is yet to come. Indeed they have taken over the lease of the Grand Bar in downtown Beirut, which closed last year. “This place is clean, we have to take the keys and open it. » Dedicated to the night world, the establishment that takes about 200 people must be relaunched next October. It will close every summer. “The crisis has suppressed the middle class, but it has seen the birth to the new customer in search of entertainment,” he continues.
Lebanon is not the only country where Mazen and Samer Maroun are committed to promoting their products. In the coming months, they should launch Soto in the new city of Sheikh Zayed, in Giza (Egypt), as well as Olio and Soto in Riyadh. The first should be launched next November; the second one at the beginning of 2023. “We are doing a “management franchise”: in Egypt, the investment is made by a local group with which we are partners and we guarantee the management of the project; in Saudi Arabia, it is a business with a two-year management contract that binds us to our local partners. A formula that allows them to compete with international groups in regional markets that are already very competitive. “Riyadh, for example, is highly competitive: all the big brands are there and you have to prove your value to impose your name, ” concludes Samer Maroun.
This article provided as part of a partnership with Hodema Consulting Services is not for advertising purposes. This weekly meeting will be dedicated to the catering and hotel industry that continues, despite everything, to fight.
Wisely since the start of the crisis, the brothers Samer and Mazen Maroun, who together run the Lotus Management group, a specialist in the catering industry, return with Pazzi. “In 2019, our family separated from the restaurant pastry shop La Gondole, founded in 1957: we no longer wanted to manage large and expensive structures in …