RIYADH: CEO of FoodsGate Saad Aldrees is empowering Saudis and heightening the standards of international cuisine in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through memorable customer journeys.
FoodsGate is a family-owned F&B company that was launched in 2012 in Saudi Arabia following the purchase of Riyadh’s favourite Japanese restaurant: Tokyo.
Since then, the company has made it their continuous goal “to make a difference in our customers’ lives” as CEO Saad Aldrees describes it.
“FoodsGate is a dream that is coming true, slowly but surely,” said Aldrees.
He first tried Tokyo in 1995 when he was around ten years old and described the food as “excellent.”
“We used to go on a weekly basis, and we used to tell our father that one day this business is going to be ours.”
The Aldrees family purchased Tokyo and began their dream in 2012 and has since maintained the authentic quality of the restaurant from the opening in 1985.
They are now expanding with three current brands and initiatives. The aim of their expansion other than to bring quality cuisine to Saudi is also to empower Saudis in the F&B and culinary sector.
FoodsGate is not merely an F&B brand, it is a company that aspires to “create a memorable customer experience for each and every one of our guests.”
Arab News sat down with CEO Saad Aldrees to discuss what goes into creating unforgettable experiences for guests, he shared that “atmosphere and service” play a major role in creating an overall feeling of satisfaction for guests visiting their restaurants while, “feeling that this place deserves every penny that I have spent on.”
The company aims to contribute to Vision 2030s goals of empowering and supporting nationals in the F&B sector. FoodsGate partnered with the Hotel and Tourism Institute of Switzerland in Riyadh and Jazan to train 21 Saudi females and 40 males to work in the restaurants under the FoodsGate company.
The female training headquarters are in Riyadh and the male location is in Jazan.
The first group of Saudi female chefs will graduate next year in February in the one-year training program and the males are completing a two-year training program that will conclude in June 2023.
Following their graduation, the chefs will work in the central production facility for Foodsgate as well as in some of the brands that the company plans to expand on in the upcoming 5 years.
When FoodsGate first launched in 2012 options in the F&B scene in the Kingdom were still very limited with the occasional American franchises as a go to for locals.
“The booming started in 2015, 2016 when many investors and entrepreneurs decided to venture into the sector, but back then the prominent brands were the American brands and franchises.”
Now, Saudis have higher standards for dining and a developed appetite for international cuisines and dining experiences in the Kingdom.
Aldrees describes the change of consumer behavior in Saudi Arabia as an “Educational Journey” for consumers.
“Many people now are well travelled unlike before, so they are exposed to different cultures, different cuisines, and different restaurants, and different backgrounds.”
This exposure has led to an F&B boom around the time of 2016 that helped expand many brands and international restaurants such as FoodsGates Kimono, Irori, and Tokyo.
The customer has changed, their needs have been elevated and that is why FoodsGate opened their two other restaurants Irori and Kimono both in Japanese cuisine because of the demand in the market.
Tokyo has been commended for having a consistent and authentic taste and quality since the opening in 1985. Arab News asked Aldrees how the quality has been maintained after all these years, and he attributed it completely to his staff.
“The soldiers or the heroes on the ground are the ones who are maintaining the quality. Why is this, because if you take care of somebody, they will take care of your business and they will take care of your customers.”
In the next five years FoodsGate hopes to expand in the Kingdom introducing other international brands outside of the Asian cuisine. The CEO confidently shared that they goal is to become one of the top three restaurant operators in the Kingdom.
Aldrees prides himself on running a business built on family values stating, “it’s treating each other as one big family, it is not about what is your last name, it is about what you are contributing to this business and to this company.”
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