Joe Abrass Talks About the Concept Behind Kawhet Leila

After the success of Leila, a new brand called Kawhet Leila was launched. After the opening of this cool new café on the Gemmayze strip, we sat down one on one with Joe Abrass, the managing partner at Leila, to find out more about the venue’s unique and interesting concept.

Joe, how did you get the idea to open up Kahwet Leila?

It started with our Leila outlets and the clientele that go there. The main clientele at Leila go to eat and enjoy the delicious and unique dining experience; but there were still some people who wanted to go to a café where they can relax, have something to drink and enjoy a hookah. We felt that it was time to launch a new concept under the Leila umbrella which would target this segment of the market that is seeking a more loungy café experience and ambiance.

What then differentiates Kahwet Leila from Leila?

Basically everything about it is different; the ambiance, seating, identity, menu, design and décor. Kahwet Leila is purely a café where you can enjoy the lounge experience with light entertainment. For example, there is a live band every Tuesday. The seating area is very comfortable and allows for our customers to lounge around for hours without feeling the need to rush or leave. It also stays open till 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
 Another example is that Leila has a wide variety of food (Armenian, Lebanese, etc.) whereas Kahwet Leila is a combination of different cuisines adapted to the Lebanese cuisine, like a club sandwich served in “Kaak” bread or “rass aassfour” served in cherry sauce or French fries with herbs. There are little unique twists in almost every item on our menu, making the venue different from Leila and other cafés in general.

And how does Kahwet Leila stand out from other cafés?

We checked out the competition in the market and compared those venues to each other. We realized that they all had a lot in common but nothing unique, and that is how we decided to position Kahwet Leila; by making it unique in its identity.

What is the concept behind Kahwet Leila’s identity?

The café concept in Lebanon started in the 1970’s and 1980’s, so we went back to that period and researched about everything from the menu to the elements of décor. Every factor of the restaurant is harmonious to symbolize the original café era in Lebanon. We have different stations serving salads, coffee, desserts, and so on that symbolize the old Lebanese dkékeen. We also decorated the place with old boxes of Lebanese biscuits and sweet, old records, old advertisements and many more. It took us an entire year of planning to study, plan and bring every detail to life in a simple, clear and neat way.

Are you pleased with the results?

I personally love it and I’m glad that we’re receiving positive feedback from our customers. As you can see the venue is always packed during the evenings.

Are there any future plans for Kahwet Leila?

We are already planning on opening a second branch after opening our first outlet in Gemmayze.

What about your plans for Leila?

Leila will be opening its fourth location at the City Center Mall in Hazmieh at the end of 2012. Leila will also be franchising in the Middle East. Stay tuned for more surprises and announcements in the near future.