Located in the heart of the Metn mountain with natural breathtaking views 700 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, Beit Mery is a town on the cusp of an exciting transformation. The growth that this densely populated pine area is experiencing will, by summer 2020, be reflected in it welcoming Lebanon’s newest F&B cluster concept, courtesy of Venture Group and Jellyfish
After introducing the country’s leading food clusters, co-founders Rabih Saba and Marwan Ayoub have gone on to envision three additional concepts which are now under construction. The Beit Mery cluster presents brand owners with an opportunity to invest in one of the country’s biggest growing sectors as early as next month when the limited number of units becomes available for rent.
There are four elements that drive differentiation, which are: an all-year-round community project, 12 F&B brand outlets adjoining a major food retailer, unobstructed accessibility from multiple points and a first-of-its-kind children’s entertainment zone. The cluster sits on a 5,000 m² plot of land with a 2,000 m² space dedicated to food retail, two mixed-use piazzas and a visitors’ underground parking facility. The project is owned by Joseph Aoun, chairman of ‘Le Charcutier’, Lebanon’s leading supermarket chain. Jellyfish, Aoun’s company, has partnered with Venture Group for the commercial development and management of the cluster for a 15-year period.
When considering the most suitable plot of land, the partners ensured this mixed development would offer an authentic interpretation of the cluster and the demands of that area’s inhabitants on par with current and future trends. The space is optimized for convenience and meant to become a meeting point for local residents and nearby communities. It is designed to cater to a range of out-of-home activities offering something for people of all ages on a relatively regular basis. The all-year-round cluster will further ensure that Beit Mery, which used to be a seasonal destination for most, has grown to become home to many.
New F&B concept
The anchor of the Beit Mery cluster features a major on-site food retail outlet courtesy of ‘Le Charcutier’ by Joseph Aoun. The concept marries a gourmet type of store offering a butchery, fishery and winery with the option of enjoying the available products in-house. This idea is not only unique, but also in keeping with consumers’ desire to pursue, develop and maintain a healthier lifestyle related to freshness, seasonality and the farm-to-table concept. Previously, people would frequent a supermarket at least twice a week. Now, a family can visit and enjoy different experiences, all at the same time and under one roof. This will create new habits that bring the entire community closer. In relation to the space allotted to the 12 F&B outlets, the partners hope these will present a balanced offering of local and international brands. They will also host organic food markets, holiday bazaars and other events to further animate the cluster, as well as drive the diverse offerings the various F&B outlets are promoting. It will be a more conceptual approach to food and seasonality, which ranks high on the trending topics in the F&B industry.
In relation to access and the architecture behind it, Tarek Zeidan and Dara McPhee Architects and Karim Bacha Architects were the two firms chosen to execute architectural design. To ensure maximum exposure, they designed the cluster to stretch for a 200-meter distance across Beit Mery’s main highway offering brands great exposure. This creates a continuous series of landscaped terraces and a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Earthy colors and materials suggest a continuity with nature and the village around the cluster. The outdoor spaces blur the boundaries between the public and the private, catering for the community and providing an enjoyable place to visit for people coming from all four directions. Furthermore, the location offers people unrestricted access from various entry points. This architecture lends the cluster more fluidity and deconstructs the notion of interior and exterior by breaking down the seemingly invisible physical boundaries. In terms of leveling, the cluster will be more naturally positioned by following the natural elevation of the location it covers allowing better and more practical access to all outlets.
Another principal factor incorporated into the design of this community cluster, is the kids’ entertainment area. It will have the highest man-made climbing wall in Lebanon designed and run by some of the country’s most prominent operators and sporting goods brand owners. They will also offer a host of fun outdoor activities that will keep children of all ages engaged leaving their caretakers plenty of time to enjoy the experiences the cluster has to offer.
The Beit Mery cluster will create roughly 500 jobs for the area’s community. In further strengthening and growing that connection, the partners extend an open invitation to anyone who has new concepts to offer. These will undoubtedly create new habits and meet demand for novelty, all of which are at the heart of what we value most.