Influential restaurateurs at the table

Influential restaurateurs at the table

Creating a successful F&B concept in the Middle East is no easy feat, and yet these five restaurateurs make it look effortless. We learn more about their brands and expansion plans.


An eye for structure, organization and effective delegation is essential to launching and managing new and unique concepts in the hospitality sector. I manage the concepts of Al Falamanki group of restaurants and Mama Pita (U.S.) Furthermore, I am currently the chairman of M’look Holding for Hospitality & Leisure Investment. Prior to that, I was a partner and in charge of the management of B018, B018 Classic and the Trainstation venue.
Keeping it in the family
We are proud to be the third generation to handle the management of our family business. We are keen on continuity for the next generations while preserving excellence in terms of quality, value and taste.
Lebanon of tomorrow
Once Lebanon is politically, financially and economically stable, I am positive it will reclaim its glory and be showcased on the tourism map, just like it was in the 70s. Stability is crucial for tourism to bounce back.
Years of experience: over 35
Number of employees: 750
Number of outlets per country/city and per brand: Lebanon – two Al Sultan Brahim, two Diwan Beirut, two Al Falamanki UAE – Al Falamanki Al Sultan Brahim (coming soon) Kuwait – Al Sultan Brahim and Diwan Beirut Qatar – Al Sultan Brahim Al Falamanki (coming soon) KSA – Al Sultan Brahim Al Falamanki (coming soon)


Keeping customers happy
I’m always looking for opportunities to do better and achieve more. I am a people person, and customer satisfaction is my highest priority.
Serving great-tasting food Um Khalil was established in 1977 in the historical city of Jerash, Amman. It was founded by a Lebanese woman, Antoinette Rami, our great grandmother. Um Khalil is a fine-dining Lebanese restaurant that offers unique and authentic Lebanese cuisine, bringing back traditional dishes from the past. We offer a full menu, from cold mezze, hot mezze, raw meat and grills to set options. The restaurant boasts a cozy atmosphere, and we are dedicated to refined service and great-tasting food.
Working toward perfection
Food is the world’s unified language. We are committed to improving our dining experience by providing our clients with excellent quality services and products that earn their trust.
Our management believes in working toward perfection to serve and satisfy a wide variety of guests from all over the world, and our team works hand in hand to pursue these goals.
Years of experience: 22
Number of employees: 120
Number of outlets per country/city and per brand: Jordan – two Lebanese Um Khalil Restaurants, one Um Khalil Cafe and one Lb Lounge Qatar – soon to launch.


The sky is the limit
I am passionate and determined. I consider myself to be a dreamer, yet also an achiever of my dreams. I believe that the sky is the limit.
Setting trends
Our experiences come with a twist. By following market studies, we set trends that align with 7 Management’s mantra: “Moments made memorable.”
A positive outlook
I am positive by nature. While everyone else was consumed by darkness during the pandemic, we took over several new locations. Thankfully, we are already witnessing a comeback in the industry, which has led to our aggressive expansion: three of our brands opening in Qatar, eight brands operating in Dubai, entering KSA with Café Beirut and Antika, penetrating Egypt in 2022 and expanding into Europe, starting with Greece and London by Q4 2022.
Years of experience: 7
Number of employees: over 1,000
Number of outlets per country/city and per brand:
Lebanon – Antika, Sayf, February 30 and Bait, Dubai – Antika, The Theater, Seven Sisters, B018.dxb, February 30, Kahwet Beirut, Le Rosé and Lucia’s, Doha – Antika and February 30, KSA – Antika and Kahwet Beirut


People business
I care about people and human development. Helping people and serving guests is what truly inspires and motivates me in life. I am in the people business serving food, not in the food business serving people.
A team effort
I am leaving my mark on the industry by opening bespoke restaurants worldwide, providing guests with memorable dining experiences and, most importantly, providing employment and financial security for 1,926 employees worldwide.
Growth and shared rewards
I am aiming to grow the company so it is valued at USD 1 billion in five years. My goal is to have it listed on the Australian stock exchange. My motivation is to financially reward our long-standing staff members for their hard work, passion and loyalty, and show them my gratitude.
Years of experience: over 35
Number of employees: 1,926
Number of outlets per country/city and per brand:
UK – two restaurants, third to open by Q1 2022, Australia – 54 stores, Dubai – two outlets, third to open by Q1 2022


With me, excellence has no limits.
Leaving a mark
My F&B legacy is AWJ Investments, a solid company with a portfolio of strong homegrown concepts that compete well in the Middle East and worldwide.
Future plans
I want to see Operation: Falafel grow further throughout the U.S. In 2022, Operation: Falafel will open in Europe, starting with London, and I hope to see it become the next franchise in food capitals over the world.plan to create many more concepts to bring people great food and experiences at our restaurants and to their homes as we grow and develop our DKitchen concept further.
Years of experience: over 20
Number of employees: over 1,000
Number of outlets per country/city and per brand: UAE – Falafel 8, Awani 3, Catch22 2, Smoky Beach 2, Surf Bite 1, D Kitchen 1, SushiDo 4, Awani express 4 ChixFix 1, Habibi Kitchen 1, Tabkha 3, Fuse 1
KSA – Falafel 7, Awani 2, Catch22 1 USA – Falafel 1

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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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