14th March 2019
Kababji, a Lebanese grill house chain concept that operates in 26 restaurants across the Middle East, is to make its UK debut later this month with a tweaked format, in Wimbledon. The business, which is led by Hylton Patterson, formerly of Tortilla, and backed by Ziad Joumblat and industry veteran Douglas Smillie is investing more than £500,000 in the launch of the Wimbledon site.
The restaurant, which will open at a former Chimichanga site, will feature sit-down dining and a takeaway offer. The company said the restaurant would specifically target millennials by featuring tech-savvy kiosks that allow customers to order and track the progress of their food on-screen and through an app, and order food direct to their table via the click of a button. A loyalty scheme will also be available on the app.
Patterson, head of UK operations, said: “Wimbledon will be our first urban village opening before we expand into central London and the rest of the UK. With several formats and approaches in place, we have a number of store openings set for 2019.” It’s thought the company has targeted sites in the City of London and Birmingham. Launched in Lebanon 25 years ago, the brand said it differentiated itself from other kebab and Lebanese restaurants through its healthy brand positioning and “transparency surrounding ingredients and production methods”, with everything prepared fresh each morning to create an “authentic Lebanese taste”.
Patterson said: “Kababji has sold 21 million sandwiches since inception. We know they are a firm favourite, which is why we’ve kept our menu 100% authentic Lebanese. However, we are about more than just wraps and have introduced more vegetarian options to the menu as the health trend for vegetarianism continues to grow. Our Wimbledon menu is 40% vegetarian and features dishes such as aubergine grill, falafel, halloumi and hummus, which is made fresh every morning using a secret blend of herbs and spices and authentic tahini shipped from Lebanon.”
The price point for sandwiches starts at £4.50. Smillie was formerly director of My Kinda Town and managing director of Henry J Beans Group. He is also former director of Busaba and Tapas Revolution. Joumblat is managing director of Joel Robuchon International and chairman of Big Fernand Restaurant Group. He is also former director of YO! Sushi.