A new formula for La Gondole’s Maroun family

A new formula for La Gondole’s Maroun family

Samer & Mazen Maroun
(Left to right)

As Lebanon’s F&B industry expands and contracts under the weight of its own success and fierce competition, concept creators and operators are seeking out prime real-estate space for a chance to unleash their creativity. Addressing that issue, HN caught up with one of Lebanon’s F&B veterans, Samer Maroun, son of La Gondole founder Nabih Maroun for a one-on-one interview.

Prior to analyzing the current state of affairs, Maroun expressed, with a heavy heart that, “The decision to permanently shut down the last remaining branch of La Gondole was quite difficult given its long-standing history. However, after reviewing many strategies, we decided to take a different direction. Due to La Gondole’s location, we realized that opening a Moulin D’or branch in its place would prove to be a very promising idea since it offers many products suitable for the area’s inhabitants. We arrived at this decision after entering into negotiations with would be investors who acquired the rights to the franchise, which they will manage with us as partners.”

That, however, was not the only shift in strategy revealed by Maroun who, back in 2005, opened Olio, a pizzeria that proved to be quite popular. Another equally successful concept was Soto, a sushi restaurant conceived by his brother Mazen a year before. More than a decade later and with numerous branches now operating, Samer opened, in 2013, a quaint French bistro called Prune in Mar Mikhael, which was also a hit and is still going strong. Having dabbled extensively in the F&B sector, he came to the realization that sticking to a single branch, as opposed to building on the brand by expanding, was a more suitable business model. In line with that strategy, Maroun revealed, “My brother and I are in agreement on this matter, which is why in July we sold both businesses (Soto and Olio). This afforded us the ability to give our full attention to fewer brands and in turn maintain focus, while preserving the desired quality and service.”

Elaborating on that decision, he explained, “The reason for this change in strategy is also due to the fact that most F&B establishments in Lebanon, especially the big ones, face tremendous competition. For that reason, I believe that focusing on smaller concepts offering a more personal touch is the way forward.”

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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