Fostering special moments with restaurateur Katarina Filipova

Fostering special moments with restaurateur Katarina Filipova

Katarina Filipova, owner of Mondoux UAE and Mondieu Slovakia, aims to create standout F&B experiences. In an exclusive interview, she tells us more about the unique features of her restaurant and what’s trending in the industry. 

 What can you tell us about your professional journey?

Since childhood, I’ve adored food, especially at my grandma’s house. Moreover, even pre-pandemic travels were about trying new cuisines and places.

When we launched the restaurant 11 years ago, our initial menu featured my favorite home dishes, emphasizing delicious desserts, like French brioche and homemade cakes. Furthermore, these desserts continue to be foundational at all our restaurants. Given my active role in the kitchen, I’m alway discussing new ideas, experimenting with food plating and capturing pictures of our dishes. Food must be appealing and taste even better.

In a heartwarming twist, Mondoux holds a special place in my heart as it involves our kids, completing a full circle.

What distinguishes your venue from others?

In our culinary philosophy at Mondoux, we believe that tasty food can be healthy when prepared with wholesome, premium ingredients. Moreover, simplicity is key, allowing the natural flavors of the food on your plate to shine.

We are deeply passionate about sourcing ingredients, and again, we honor them by making each one the star of the dish. Besides using selected international spices and marinades, we intentionally avoid onion or garlic to prevent overpowering the natural flavors. Furthermore, we prioritize preserving the freshness of our produce.

At every branch, our entire back-of-house team ensures each dish embodies our essential Mondoux values before it reaches the table.

Notably, customers from diverse communities consistently return for the fresh flavors, minimalism and health-driven focus that we embody and prioritize.

Interestingly, we invest love in our desserts. Moreover, we use organic chocolate, offering patrons a decadent, authentic flavor without overt processing.

 How do you anticipate and meet the needs of clients?

By engaging in mindful conversations, we understand the interests of our diverse mix of tourists and residents, securing valuable repeat business.

Moreover, consistency is paramount. I ensure our guests receive exactly what enticed them on the menu. It’s not just about the food, of course. Our team contributes significantly. Acknowledging their role, I like to capture authentic behind-the-scenes moments to share on our social media channels.

Additionally, Mondoux has a loyalty program, aiding our understanding of customers’ preferences. This guides our requisition lists and promotions for upcoming months.

 In your opinion, how crucial is the location of a venue for its success?

 Functioning as a gastronomy capital, Dubai and the UAE operate at an exceptionally high level, surrounded by strong competitors, strengthening the unique Mondoux brand.

Moreover, a key element for a successful restaurant is its location. Our various branches cater to different customers, with some targeting tourists and others focusing on residential communities.

Furthermore, an intriguing insight is that UAE residents have disposable income to invest in healthy food. In contrast, in tourist venues, flavor takes a back seat, emphasizing strategic, outstanding views that attract footfall.

What notable differences exist in managing branches between Europe and the Middle East?

We’ve observed three key differences. Firstly, in the UAE, employees prefer working as a team, forming a larger work family. In Europe, on the other hand, there’s a tendency to work more independently or in smaller groups. We recognize the importance of giving individuals space to develop.

Secondly, in Europe, it’s popular to study gastronomy at hotel schools, focusing on the theoretical part first, whereas in Dubai, it’s a combination of practical and theory. In any case, we provide all employees with an introductory training course.

In addition, in Europe, locals primarily communicate in their native language. This trend is changing, and we give space to expats. In the UAE, we communicate in English.

What can you tell us about your franchising opportunities?

Currently, all Mondoux branches in the UAE and Mondieu branches in Prague are owned by us. We are thrilled about expanding in the UAE later in 2024 and launching Mondieu in Rome and Prague in the next two years.

We are looking for franchisees in Germany and Saudi Arabia and offer three types of models: kiosks under 20 square meters, bistros between 60-100 square meters and full-fledged restaurants over 200 square meters.

Once signed as franchise partners, we provide support from the early stages, including finding the right location, design manual, architectural guidance and a pre-opening team.

What’s next?

In response to a desire for authentic flavors, we’re opening a new branch, featuring signature products, top-quality ingredients and an upgraded design.

Beyond the MENA region, there’s demand globally, seen in Prague and Rome. We anticipate Mondoux and Mondieu expanding to more locations worldwide.


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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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