Closing the hospitality gap with Hassan Ballout, CEO and co-founder of Limestone Lab

Closing the hospitality gap with Hassan Ballout, CEO and co-founder of Limestone Lab

We learn more about how Limestone Lab is launching ground-breaking food concepts from the company’s CEO and co-founder, Hassan Ballout.

How does Limestone Lab honor its vision of launching new and innovative hospitality concepts?
Part of our core philosophy is to re-imagine how people interact with spaces and embody them within our concepts. We start off by doing market gap analysis research to understand which segment is missing. Then we consider its competitive landscape, which in turn triggers our innovation process to tackle all aspects of the concept, from the food and beverage offerings to the aesthetics of the venue, service standards, down to the consumer journey and brand touch points the second a client walks in. Also, being fond of technology, we use all types of innovations to help us streamline our operational efficiency and elevate our concept development process.

What defines a groundbreaking food concept?
While most people tend to view the location as the most crucial aspect, I firmly believe that the food and beverage offering is what matters first and foremost. For example, even if you have the most incredible location but lack good food, customers will never come back. Conversely, remote locations with great menus can succeed in attracting customers. Once your food and beverage offering has been perfected, then the right location, branding, concept, aesthetics and design, will enable your concept to become highly scalable and replicable in multiple locations, and cities, at a faster pace.

What can you tell us about you latest collaboration with Ciao Pizzeria?
We are really excited about this collaboration, as our partners have created a unique menu that features phenomenal pizza. We believe that there is a significant market gap between the high-end and mid-low pizzerias, so we found an opportunity, offering gourmet food that’s approachable from a price-point perspective.

Why did you choose to collaborate with this particular brand?
Our partners have spent considerable time researching and developing their food offering and pizza, from perfecting the dough to sourcing the right ingredients and engineering the right menu structure. Rather than spending time and resources developing a similar food concept, we decided to join forces with one that has already been designed with great passion heart. Indeed, between Ciao Pizzeria and our concept development expertise, we have a winning formula.

Do you have any forthcoming projects to share with us?
We just launched Peaches & Cream beach club and have a specialty coffee shop in the works. We are also contemplating opening Social Distrikt at a second location, as we believe it to be a very disruptive and innovative business. We have had a considerable amount of interest from developers across the region, as well as Europe and the US. With that in mind, we are working on raising funds to grow the brand even further.

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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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