It is quite a trend now to hear about a new food outlet opened with traditional cuisine idea such as Al Basta, Bait Al Belaleet, Emmwash, Zafran, Ban Al Subh, Al Fakhara, Fareej Bin Aagool and many other outlets, some existing restaurants added (or had already added) traditional dishes to its menu such as Chaise, Salsa, Ammar Café etc, perhaps it’s a strategy to meet the demand in the customer taste and preferences shift and for sure its market opportunity to capture this trend, and more importantly, its people liking the idea of going back to its roots for having homemade, good quality and affordable meal outside their homes.
It’s good to note that many places have never changed their original menu and has been offering the same concept for decades now such as Tabreez, Al Zeyara and the famous “Hajio Café” in Manama Market, which is one of my favorite places, which serves tasty delights with the same 90s prices so far.
Recently we have many clients who requested our services to develop business plans for similar concepts, and followings are few tips for those who are willing to enter this market:
1- Keep It Simple and Authentic
Add the local homemade touch, by keeping the original names of the dishes, use local names for your outlets, and do your best to have Bahraini staff and chefs, Bait Al Belaleet and Emmawash will make you feel home. I mean literary!
2- Keep it affordable
Out of all outlets, Al Basta got the concept a little awkward, the prices are relatively high, and the portions are too small (one chicken leg Machboos shouldn’t cost you more than BD 2.5! especially when it’s served cold!), keep your prices affordable, the competition is high, some of your competitors are just few meters away!
3- Keep your customers Engaged
Post their photos in your instegram, ask them for feedback, and chitchat with them when they are around, Emmawash’s owners know their clients and their preferences the minute they walk in their outlets, make sure to create your brand ambassadors, they are cheap and very effective marketing tools.
4- Add a kick to your menu
Mix and match, and be creative in launching new dishes which are mixture of traditional items with other cuisine concepts, but be careful, some are here just to taste simple homemade egg with tomatoes, no need to add rosemary, thyme and shrimps in their memories!!
5- Finally, Diversify
Since people are already in mood in going back to their roots, why not other fields with similar concepts, not only dine in options, I can see a trend of tea houses, food stands, sandwich and sharbat “juices” outlets, traditional sweets outlets, you can already find many of them on Instagram, like Sago cups, rangeena cups, Mahyawa rolls and homemade ice creams (abu Habb!).
You may also find the traditional clothing design reflected in fashion & accessories, beauty products and salon, jewelries and perfumes.
I can see also construction, interior design, kitchenware, gift items & furniture going in that trend soon.
The bottom line is, since there is a trend, like the trend of international chain coffee shop such as Starbucks and Costa café which emerged in the market 10 years ago, a “Mushbirbucks” is a valid idea since the trend towards going to the back to the local traditions is a valid potential for new business concepts, entrepreneurs must be careful though to launch an idea which is sustainable, profitable and delivers value, otherwise, it will fade and so will many businesses like the frozen yogurt Era!
note: apologies for my non local readers as some terminologies are purely related to Bahraini language and geographic area