Hailing from Beirut, Safa’a Fares has had countless experiences of enjoying falafel – the vegetarian, chickpea- and fava-based snack – but encountering a
Japanese version of a falafel sandwich on a trip to Dubai was a life-changing experience.
Encouraged by a group of friends in 2012 to try Just Falafel’s global range of menu choices – Mexican, Italian, Indian and even falafel burgers, Safa’a was
thrilled that the traditional food of her childhood and country was undergoing an evolution.
“As far as I was concerned, there was only one type of falafel sandwich. On my first visit to Just Falafel, I was overwhelmed by the choice of sandwiches on the menu, and even more surprising was that each sandwich tasted amazing,” Safa’a recalled.
“I thought to myself, finally someone has innovated in this food category, and I felt that the brand imposed itself in a very powerful way. True, Just Falafel is
a simple name, but the complexity of the menu offering was so complete, bringing international kitchens under one roof.”
Spotting a hot opportunity, Safa’a contacted Just Falafel’s management and applied to bring the brand to Beirut as its first franchise in Lebanon. Since opening in August 2012, Safa’a has woked closely with other franchisees in Lebanon, and with three stores open, three more in the pipeline and up to 24 Just Falafel outlets expected in the country by 2014, the response has been tremendous.
“On the one hand, falafel is a very popular meal in Lebanon, but it’s also a very fragmented meal, meaning you don’t find the consistency across the country in this food category. Also, no one else in the Lebanese market, or the world for that matter, offers the innovative menu that Just Falafel has,” states Safa’a.
“I think that for a lot of people now in Lebanon, in particular the younger generation, the much healthier options offered by Just Falafel are a huge hit.
The response has been great, and customers are experiencing this traditional taste at Just Falafel as never before, in the Japanese sandwich, the Mexican
quesadillas, the Italian and Indian sandwiches, and of course, the falafel burger.”
Just Falafel’s management recognized Safa’a’s infectious enthusiasm for the brand, and her passion inspired the company to offer her a role as Franchise
Communications Manager. Safa’a is currently overseeing the roll-out up to 50 Just Falafel outlets in Turkey, and she is providing valuable, personal insight to
franchise partners in Istanbul and elsewhere.
“I believe in this brand, and it’s critically important to believe in what you do to be successsful. You have both successful and unsuccessful franchisees across
the biggest brands in the world, and only those who give it their ‘all’ will be successful, so my advice to any franchisee is to give Just Falafel the energy and
focus it deserves.”
“Just Falafel has been a life changing experience for me in so many ways. I have learned that although business is all about challenges, if you have the right
ideas with the right team and belief, you can overcome them all,” she states. “I no longer like to be in my comfort zone; instead, I am now always looking for
new challenges — that is the culture at Just Falafel. Both franchisees and staff feel real pride in ownership of the Just Falafel brand – the momentum in
the brand is shocking, and the achievements in such a short period of time for Just Falafel can sometimes feel overwhelming.”
“The future at Just Falafel is literally next week and next month! I always think about the level of exitement I had when I first got into this venture (after my first Just Falafel sandwich in Dubai) and the biggest challenge for me and for the other franchisees is to retain that same level of exitement.”
From a personal perspective, Safa’a is full of praise for the support she has received from Just Falafel, and the encouragement provided to franchisees as entreprenuers in their own right.
“At Just Falafel’s head office, there is a strong feeling that we need to build this brand globally together and all of a sudden, I see myself subscribing to this
philosophy and my thinking is becoming very global. It feels like I am becoming a business woman almost without trying because of Just Falafel’s momentum and the exposure I am getting from the brand,” Safa’a notes.