Dubai restaurant hopes flatbreads will rise as it looks to go global

When Jihad El Eit opened his first Man2ooshe restaurant, he did not bank on it becoming a big name in the UAE food and beverage industry.

At the time, two years ago, he was focused on Jeetek, a mobile phone distribution company he recently sold. And besides, he largely opened the Lebanese eatery out of curiosity, as everyone seemed to be getting into the sector.

But it turns out the Lebanese restaurant, which specialises in Manakish, a type of flatbread, did not need his help to get off the ground.

One restaurant has since grown to four in Dubai. The company also has partners in two locations, franchise inquiries from as far apart as Canada and Erbil - and a plan for 50 outlets in the Middle East by 2014.

"It was never an intention to grow that much or to do that much but [then] we started seeing the results," said Mr El Eit.

"I started to pay more attention to comments that I was receiving and then at the end of this last year I decided do you know what? This is my next step. This is what I am going to make succeed."

The company decided to franchise everywhere outside Dubai, even Abu Dhabi, spending the money it saves on back-end costs, such as manuals.

"Our investment is and was planned for Dubai only," said Mr El Eit.

"What we have decided is let me invest in my backbone, let me invest in my infrastructure and let me franchise in Abu Dhabi where it is close by and I can deliver more support to the franchisee and ensure he succeeds as well."

But Man2ooshe is also looking to expand farther afield. It has just signed an Egyptian franchisee - although Mr El Eit thinks the market is big enough to have more than one partner in the country - to open an outlet in Cairo early next year.

And it recently signed with a franchising company in London to help the brand expand further.

"At the end of the day it is something that we have to ensure we are doing right so our franchisees don't close after one year and walk out," he said.

"We have to ensure their profitability. We have to ensure their quality, consistency. We have to ensure we are going to succeed because if we succeed in the first country we will succeed everywhere else."