Mireille Hayek is an intuitive, spontaneous and meticulous restaurateur. However, she doesn’t take success for granted. In this exclusive interview, Hayek shares her story and what drives her ambition.
As a successful businesswoman, what advice would you give to fellow restaurateurs?
At Em Sherif, we attribute our success to being attentive listeners. Our customers play a crucial role in our growth, and we value their feedback as we strive to improve our cuisine every day. Our recipe for success is founded on perseverance, and we prioritize our customers above all else. We make it our mission to achieve excellence and consistency in everything we do, going beyond just food, service, and interior design. Ultimately, it’s about creating a unique and soulful dining experience that resonates with our customers.
What makes your concepts appealing to audiences in the Middle East and Europe?
To achieve success, we believe that the main ingredients are quality, consistency, perseverance, presence and authenticity. As a skilled home cook, my passion for showcasing Lebanese culture and my family’s support have fueled my desire to become a flagbearer for my country’s cuisine. At Em Sherif, we strive to create an immersive experience where customers can touch, see, taste and feel all the aspects that make up our unique landscape. Our goal is to create an authentic and soulful atmosphere in every Em Sherif location.
Your restaurants are sought-after franchises. How do you pick the right franchisor?
We look for a good mixture of experience, portfolio and financial capabilities.
Your daughter, Yasmina, was heavily involved in developing the menus at your concepts. What can you tell us about this mother-daughter collaboration?
Together with my daughter, we form a formidable team. I bring my knowledge of the market and understanding of Lebanese culinary techniques, while my daughter contributes her expertise in innovative cooking techniques and design.
Do you have any expansion plans or new concepts in the pipeline?
We have several openings scheduled in the GCC region and beyond, including Em Sherif Restaurant in Oman and Dubai, Em Sherif Sea Café in Riyadh, and Em Sherif Café in Oman, KSA, Bahrain, Jordan and Irbil. Em Sherif has also expanded to Europe with the opening in London at Harrods, Monaco at Hotel de Paris and soon in Greece, France and Switzerland. We recently launched Em Sherif Deli, which offers ready-to-eat items from its extensive menu. The first outlet started operating in Harrods London in January 2022 and the concept is expected to rapidly expand throughout all the territories in the coming few years.