April 30, 2019 Hamra & Verdun Beirut Lebanon Middle East

The Cheesecake Factory Closes in Beirut: Goodbye to Another Franchise

I keep on repeating one sentence: “Lebanon is not a franchise country”. From the days' franchises started opening in Lebanon, I remember saying that they won’t work. Actually, they will at one condition; “if they speak Lebanese”.

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Let’s start counting the ones I remember: Applebee’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Gaucho, Fuddruckers, Krispy Kream, Baskin Robbin’s, Haagen Dazs shops, The Butcher Grill Shop, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and the list can go on and on...

Stop for a second and let’s agree on one thing; it’s not because the economical situation is bad! Not at all. Many closed during Lebanon’s flourishing years. It’s because they didn’t speak Lebanese! There is the world, and there is Lebanon; what applies to the world, doesn’t apply to Lebanon.

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When you want to open a restaurant "franchise" in Lebanon you need to ask yourself several questions; can a Lebanese do it better, is it a flavor Lebanese will like? Can they eat from it eternally -because Lebanese get bored easily-, is there a local alternative... what do Lebanese expect? Generosity, pampering, not abiding by the rules, giving them a flavor they like and understand.

Three main examples you can relate to are Dunkin' Donuts, Mc. Donald's and Chili’s which have been operating for 20 years and still growing.

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Back to the closing of The Cheesecake Factory:

  • Location, Location, Location!
  • Rent vs. Employees vs. Sales: We are not Dubai. Beirut looks like a village in front of big metropoles.
  • A huge space in a small city; too many tables, too many seats, too many employees... clearly not feasible.
  • Loaded, very fatty and bulky plates... good for the GCC and the US but not for Lebanese people.
  • Local restaurants are doing it the same exact way and sometimes offering tastier food: Lebanese like it at Sandwiched, Roadster and Crepaway.
  • Verdun was not the best choice! Half the country doesn’t visit Verdun.

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Anyway, I can go on and on: my main message is that The Cheesecake Factory didn’t close because of an “Economical Crisis” restaurants are hiding behind. The Cheesecake Factory closed because it didn’t do its homework properly, the same way it was not done for "Shake Shack".

 

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been there? what was your impression? (10/10)

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happy
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good
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euhh
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meh!
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nah!
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never again