Promising to provide authentic taste of Italian Life, Lebanon’s Colombiano Coffee House is expanding its presence across geographies. In an interview, Patrick Lahoud, International Business Development Manager, Colombiano Coffee House shares the brand’s expansion plans in Middle East.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Share the origin and concept of Colombiano Coffee House or CCH.
Patrick Lahoud (PL): Colombiano Coffee House or CCH is a café concept headquartered in Lebanon. It’s concept is based on a mythical and old love story of Coco, a young and beautiful woman from Costa Playa Real, her grandmother Lomalita, an excellent cook who devoted her life to teach Coco the art of preparing great tasting food and beverages, and Coco’s beloved Fabiano, an Italian who helped realise her dream of opening a food and beverage store in a city. It is a love story that immortalised the beautiful emotions shared among three of them and created Co.Lom.Biano, by joining of their names. Today, the CCH is no longer a simple ‘One Option Only’ tearoom or coffeehouse concept. It can be viewed as a ‘uniquely elegant’ Bistro / Café, a fusion between coffeehouse and tearoom, gourmet pastry store, restaurant, sandwich and salads outlet, all of international standards, and with an ‘all day - any time’, casual yet stylish dining offer.
NB: What is the USP of the brand CCH?
PL: What differentiates CCH from its competitors is its great tasting food and beverages inspired by the Latin American cuisine and flavoured with love. The brand’s USP is that its products are created from a healthy recipe using quality ingredients. Our guests can enjoy our tasty appetizers and tapas, wholesome salads, sandwiches and platters, high end pizza, burgers and wedged potato fries (for the restaurant format, in certain markets), mouthwatering pastries, deserts, ice creams, refreshing fruit juice based blends and milk based shakes, coffee and tea based beverages imported from countries like Costa Rica, Sumatra, Brazil, Ethiopia etc, tea and infusion flavours sourced from ‘Sri Lanka’ and other countries, or alcohol based cocktails, spirits and more.
NB: What inspired the company to opt for franchise model?
PL: After establishing a comfortable following within the local community, CCH decided to share the love of good living, through the sharing of great tasting, uniquely flavoured, food and beverage, with as many people as possible, throughout the world. Colombiano Coffee House felt that it needed to extend its really satisfying, fresh and affordable Latin cuisine in an enjoyable setting. The brand wanted to offer the visitors a place they could call their own and feel pride in recommending it to their friends and loved ones. Therefore, the brand started franchising to reach out to more people.
NB: Please share brand’s current presence in the Middle East. What are the brand’s further expansion plans?
PL: Colombiano Coffee House is developing its operation in various Arab and gulf countries, with an eye to further expand in Europe and the USA. CCH has entered into agreements with various master franchisees, with stores operating, or committed to be opened, in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Lebanon. CCH is currently in negotiations with potential master franchisee investors for Tunisia, Kuwait and Oman. It is a testimony that Colombiano Coffee House has proven over the past few years that it is an attractive and successful Latino Bistro / Café concept that enjoys immense customer’s loyalty in the region of its operations.
NB: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees?
PL: For the initial decoration and set up itself, this will depend on the territory. Investment varies according to franchised territory and it will depend on several factors and mainly on the construction costs. In practice, the franchisee should budget an approximate capital of USD 100,000 per shop, for a 100 sq. m area. Of course, this would vary upward or downward depending on the economic parameters of the territory. As franchisors, we care about our long term successful relationship with the franchisee and therefore, look for those potential entrepreneurs that best satisfies the CCH criteria that includes qualities like good standing in the society where the investment and development will take place, financial stability, management expertise, track record of success in the F&B sector, strategic vision etc.
NB: What kind of support and training is offered to the prospective franchisees?
PL: In practice, and prior to store opening, the franchisee can send his/her staff for training in our head office where the training is conducted, free of charge for all departments. At CCH, we do our best to help set up a good base for the franchise strategic partner or an investor to start from. We would like to build a strong business alliance with our partners and suppliers alike, to whom we communicate our strict operating guidelines and stringent food & beverage quality requirements. As part of the ever growing CCH family, our franchisees get support related to general concept designs, products, procedures, recipes, marketing, operations, customer/guest service, site recommendation, as well as more unique offerings to ensure a higher return on investment per store. Consequently, we offer constant strategic support on all aspects of the CCH concept, as well as tactical support both at the on-set of the relationship and throughout the life of the franchise.
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