How have you managed to succeed in expanding in such a challenging market as the Lebanese one?
The country’s political instability remains a major challenge, having a negative impact on the number of tourists and expats entering the country. You’ve got to choose the project and location wisely, ensuring that you give your bar-restaurant a solid identity while sticking to the guidelines for sustainable success. We first opened Esco-Bar at The Village Dbayeh in November 2015, spawning a chain of successful concepts throughout the area shortly afterward. The second outlet opened at The Backyard Hazmieh in June 2016 and, just one month later, a third was launched at the Printania Villa in Broumana. Further branches were added to the network: one on Jounieh’s coast at Aigue Marine, which opened in June of 2017; another in St Nicolas Achrafieh in summer 2018; and the last one opened in Faqra at Faqra Club the following summer.
What is the secret behind Esco-Bar’s success?
The beauty of nostalgia is that you can yearn for things from the past that you didn’t even experience, such as making you nostalgic for a Latin neighborhood you never knew. Walking into the Esco- Bar is like taking a stroll in an old Latin alleyway. Hand-painted trompe l’oeil on the walls, a wrought iron staircase and a floral decor evoke the authentic charm of forgotten times. Vintage ceramic tiles add shades of vibrant colors to the candle-lit terrace. Here, the possibilities are endless; savor a margarita on the rocks or an authentic daiquiri, gather around an exquisite fajita or sway to exotic Latin rhythms.
I believe that the secret to our success is having a robust business model that’s able to stand the test of time. Our Tex-Mex bar-restaurant, where visitors can enjoy drinks, great food and entertainment all under one roof, doesn’t go out of fashion; it’s the full package.
What about your expansion beyond the Lebanese borders?
Esco-Bar’s first step toward regional expansion in the MENA region happened when we signed our first franchise in Doha, Qatar. The franchise development plan was signed with Foodies Hospitality. The branch opened in January 2021 at the VIP Hotel’s rooftop.
The second franchise was signed with Venture lifestyle for an expansion of Esco- Bar in Egypt. The first outlet opened in January 2022 at Garden City, Cairo. We are considering opening two additional outlets in Egypt this year: one in Sahel Al Chemaly, a summer destination, in July 2022; and the other at Sheikh Zayed City in October 2022.
This year, we are looking to sell some of our existing franchises to regional partners. We plan on targeting companies that would like to diversify their offerings with several F&B concepts. In this context, we are negotiating a franchise outlet for Esco-Bar in the UAE, and we are considering potential franchisees in Saudi Arabia.