What is in this article?:
- Restaurants still find opportunity in the Middle East
- Recent expansion agreements
With the region’s economy continuing to grow, U.S.-based brands aim to satisfy Middle Eastern tastes for American concepts
Recent expansion agreements
Vancouver, Wash.-based Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza said in the fall that it planned to open in the region, following other players like Tea Lounge, Smashburger, Mooyah, Fatburger, Nestle Toll House Café and Naked Pizza.
Steak 'n Shake signed a deal to expand the full-service burger brand to the Middle East. The concept, owned by Biglari Holdings Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, said in October it had inked its first international development agreement with the Saleh Bin Lahej Group to open 40 restaurants throughout the United Arab Emirates.
The Saleh Bin Lahej Group already franchises U.S.-based brands such as Chili's Grill & Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Black Canyon Asian Cuisine, El Chico, The Pizza Company and Cantina Laredo.
“The UAE will be the springboard from which we plan to grow the Steak ‘n Shake brand in multiple dimensions and in many other countries, ” Sardar Biglari, chairman of Biglari Holdings, said in a statement at the time. Steak 'n Shake has about 500 restaurants in the United States.
Atlanta-based Focus Brands Inc. has a growing presence in the Middle East, with more than 100 units of its Cinnabon chain in Saudi Arabia, and 1,000 internationally of its full brand portfolio, which includes Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s.
In November, The Cheesecake Factory debuted in Kuwait, after launching in Dubai in August. The Kuwait unit in The Avenues mall seats 475 guests and measures 13,160 square feet.
“The Cheesecake Factory’s arrival in the Gulf has been overwhelmingly positive, reflecting our great potential in the region and affirming our decision to expand into the Middle East as part of our global expansion,” David Overton, chairman and chief executive of Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based The Cheesecake Factory Inc., said at the time.
The casual-dining chain is being developed in the Middle East by the Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co., which is developing other brands, including Texas Roadhouse, P.F. Chang’s, Pinkberry, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Shake Shack and Starbucks.
Alshaya’s exclusive licensing agreement with The Cheesecake Factory provides for the development of its restaurants across the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The agreement also gives Alshaya the opportunity to expand The Cheesecake Factory into its other operating markets in the Middle East and North Africa, Russia, and Europe.
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