Having Secured US$15 Million In Privately Raised Capital, Kitch Co-Founder And CEO Walid Hajj Is On A Mission To "Reimagine Restaurants"
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Walid Hajj is perhaps best known for being the founder of Cravia, one of the Middle East’s leading food and hospitality groups that brought franchises like Zaatar W Zeit, Five Guys, Cinnabon, and Seattle’s Best Coffee to the region. So, when this entrepreneur, who’s been in the restaurant business for more than two decades, decided to join hands with Veda Holding founder Fahad Alhokair to launch Kitch, billed as “the region’s first hybrid, delivery-focused, cloud kitchen, and premium storefront operator,” with a cool US$15 million in privately raised capital, well, it’s easy enough to understand why most of us had to sit up and take notice of this new venture.
But even if one were to look at Kitch on the strength of its idea alone, this company would probably still impress- after all, this is a business on a mission to, as its slogan goes, “reimagine restaurants.” According to Hajj, who runs Kitch as its CEO, with technology driving the future of the F&B industry, his enterprise is offering restaurants the ability to start, grow, and build their businesses faster, cheaper, and with much less risk.
But while Kitch claims to cater to restaurants run as either brick-and-mortar storefronts or as cloud kitchens, it does seem like the latter is going to play a more significant role going forward. “The business model of Kitch is going to be the future of both the global and regional cloud kitchen industry,” Hajj says. “Kitch aims to deliver ‘the best in the world’ everywhere it goes, and be the best, hybrid delivery-focused cloud-kitchen and franchise operator. Our carefully curated portfolio will feature an exclusive mix of popular regional brands and international franchises, in addition to new, innovative brands that have been developed to meet the changing trends and demographics that affect the F&B industry. We believe we will be contributing to Restaurants 2.0, the new era of the restaurant industry that has been shaped by technology, data insights, and consumer experience.”
Having officially launched only in February of this year, Kitch is now all set to kick off its operations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Five cloud kitchens have been already planned for the latter, and work is afoot for the brand’s further expansion in the region and beyond. “We are building Kitch to be not just a regional player, but a global player,” Hajj says. “The potential to grow Kitch, once we establish a strong base and have solid brands in our portfolio, is massive. The world is becoming smaller due to the advances in technology, and everything we need is within a touch of a button.
With the assistance of social media platforms, we are able to understand and respond to the consumers’ changing preferences, as well as impact consumer behavior. Our goal is to make Kitch a $1 billion business in next five to six years. It is ambitious, it is challenging, but it is achievable.”
Put Your Thinking Cap On
Kitch co-founder Walid Hajj on how to spark a great idea
1. Get your head in the game “My advice is to get out there, and take risks. Get exposed to the world, and what it offers.”
2. Persist and persevere “Find a passion, and focus on it. Eat it, drink it, and sleep with it. The simplest things in life can turn into big ideas if you dig deep enough.”
3. Just do it “Finally, don’t be afraid to try. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”