Beirut has long had its adopted Greek: Athanasios Kargatzidis delighted the taste buds of gourmets in the kitchens of the Baron restaurant in Mar Mikhaël. Delicious, the menu hinted at the influence of its mother country, but without ostentatiously claiming it. If Grecco in Jbeil or Bait in Gemmayzé offer Greek-influenced dishes, we had to wait for Yamas (“Cheers”), the brand new Greek restaurant developed by the Addmind group, to see the tzaziki, the moussaka and the ouzo to be one of the essentials of the catering sector in Lebanon.
Based in Aïshti by the Sea, Yamas replaces the former Japanese restaurant Aki from the same group. The decoration, signed by the architect Suzy Nasr (House of Design), has been entirely revisited. “We will soon be opening another Japanese fusion restaurant in this same region and we preferred not to have two close concepts in close proximity to each other. We were already organizing Hellenic evenings at the Bar du Port. Their success made us decide to develop this theme in a more sustainable way when we considered replacing Aki”, explains Claude Saba, partner and director of operations of the Addmind group.
The new restaurant joins two other group entities already established in the premises of the Antelias shopping center: La Mezcaleria, dedicated to Mexican cuisine, and Le Bar du Port, which has found a new lease of life here after the destruction of its original address. in Saïfi, during the explosion of August 4, 2020.
If Addmind refuses to communicate the capital outlay necessary for this new project, the group estimates its return on investment “in line with the standards of the sector”, ie within two to three years.
Despite the off-centre location, the large, bright room (124 m2) in white and blue and the terrace by the sea (260 m2) can accommodate up to 220 guests for an average ticket of around 35 dollars per person. “The first month is always a grace period for any space that opens. But our first week of operation in Yamas is a great success which, I hope, augurs well for its long-term success,” assures the group’s director of operations. Addmind has also recruited 45 employees to provide service and management.
Yamas signs the return to power in Lebanon of the Addmind group. Since the 2006 war, the company had in fact chosen to develop in other markets. Before 2019, it thus carried out 50% of its activity abroad, especially in the United Arab Emirates, “even if our objective is to achieve a balanced presence between all the countries in which we operate”, notes Claude Saba.
Stay loyal to the country
The Lebanese economic crisis and the explosion at the port of Beirut, in which Addmind lost five establishments as well as the building that occupied its head office, however pushed it to revise its strategy. “There were two choices then: close everything or rebuild. We chose the second option,” notes the businessman who claims to want to remain faithful to the country in which the group was born in 2001. Despite everything, its presence on the local market was discreet for a few years.
In Beirut, Addmind now owns eight entities. A new place should even open in July. “The sector is slowly picking up. The clientele has decreased due in particular to the large wave of emigration affecting the country and which has affected the hotel and restaurant sectors to a large extent. This winter, it was obvious. But the summer period is promising thanks to tourists, attracted by an advantageous exchange rate, and expatriates who continue to return to see their families. »
The proof ? The group has just recruited nearly 400 new employees in Lebanon, bringing the number of employees to over 700, and around 2,500 worldwide. “In Lebanon, our salaries have never gone down. On the contrary, we have adjusted them by paying a part in dollars to take into account the cost of living which is more expensive”, notes Claude Saba again.
Addmind is now present in six countries. Besides Lebanon, it has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain. He has also launched three new places this winter: the Argentinian restaurant of chef Fernando Trocca Sucre, tested a few months earlier in London, Le Bar du Port and Bazaar by Caprice, a club that already exists in Beirut. It has also established itself in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom (London), and plans to open in Egypt very soon.
In partnership with Hodema
This article, produced as part of a partnership with Hodema Consulting Services, has no promotional purpose. This weekly meeting will be devoted to the catering and hotel sector which continues, despite everything, to fight.
Beirut has long had its adopted Greek: Athanasios Kargatzidis delighted the taste buds of gourmets in the kitchens of the Baron restaurant in Mar Mikhaël. Delicious, the menu hinted at the influence of its mother country, but without ostentatiously claiming it. If Grecco in Jbeil or Bait in Gemmayzé offer dishes with a Greek influence, it will have been necessary to wait…