Marc Chehade talks F&B concepts beyond borders

Marc Chehade talks F&B concepts beyond borders

A nightlife enthusiast at heart, Marc Chehade entered the Lebanese F&B scene at a young age. After setting up his company MEC, the entrepreneur launched a series of renowned concepts, including Escobar, Lockstock, Stairway and Kaffeine. We learn more about his path to success.

To what you attribute your success?
I believe that the secret to our success is having a robust business model that’s able to stand the test of time while we fight to keep our brand alive. Bar-restaurants, where visitors can enjoy drinks, great food and entertainment all under one roof, don’t go out of fashion; they offer a package deal, as some nights our bars turn into a mini nightclubs with live entertainment. We are also flexible; for example, when Covid-19 hit, we cut our costs, increased our prices and readjusted our profit margins to reflect market fluctuations.

Why are your concepts so appealing from a franchise perspective?
I think it all boils down to having a winning concept and the right formula for success. Over the course of 20 years, I have been able to identify and implement key factors that are integral to the success of any F&B concept. I have always made it my priority to select prime locations for my businesses to closely reflect the identity of the area. I also invest in effective and consistent back and front office management systems.

Are you looking into any new markets?
Franchising in the MENA region is our main target, so we are working on opening more branches of Escobar. We recently opened our first franchise in January 2021 in Doha, Qatar. We are very excited about opening many other branches of Escobar in Dubai, KSA and Egypt.

Have you ever considered creating a new concept?
The Lebanese are well-traveled, demanding clientele, and the local market offers a good base for testing various concepts, although it also brings with it challenges for entrepreneurs and F&B creators. Launching new concepts has become quite difficult in Lebanon’s F&B market due to the current situation, which is forcing many owners to focus solely on maintaining their operations and even scale down. As a result, consumers who were used to experiencing new concepts regularly are now revisiting the familiar ones, such as Lock Stock, Stairway, Escobar and Kaffeine.

Mark Chehade
Managing Partner
MEC Concepts

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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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