Famous Brands’ premium-end boutique lifestyle café brand, tashas, has commenced its global expansion programme with the launch of its maiden international restaurant in Jumeirah 1, in Dubai today. tashas, the brainchild of Natasha Sideris, was founded in 2005 with a single restaurant in Atholl Square in Sandton. In 2008, Famous Brands acquired a 51% stake in tashas and by so doing secured the indispensable skills, energy and experience of Natasha and her brother, Savva Sideris, to ensure that the brand retained its authenticity and achieved its full potential. The brand has subsequently opened 11 restaurants around the country – to high acclaim. In the Group’s most recent annual report for the year ended February 2014, Kevin Hedderwick, CEO of Famous Brands said: “Domestically, this brand consistently proves that those consumers who have money to spend continue to do so; tashas delivered 20% like-on-like growth for the period. We anticipate a similarly positive response from the affluent consumers which the Dubai restaurant will serve.” Natasha Sideris says “Our Dubai restaurant is a milestone in tashas’ history. We have always aspired to spread our wings into the international arena, and the last nine years have served as great preparatory work for this step.” She elaborates, “This project has taken two years to reach fruition. We are always extremely discerning about site selection, choosing to be situated in bespoke malls situated in semi-suburban locations close to cities with a good balance of residential and business usage; so a huge amount of research was conducted to select the right area and the right mall. In addition, as part of the set-up process, we faced challenges such as learning the local laws, training staff, sourcing the right produce and managing the logistics of transporting the restaurant interior from South Africa.” “We selected Dubai as the launch-pad for our international expansion because of its close geographical proximity to South Africa and the fact that we share a similar culture in terms of perceiving malls as entertainment destinations. In addition, the high number of expatriates in Dubai makes this market an attractive one for our brand. The site in Jumeirah 1 was specifically chosen because it is located between the suburbs and the city in an area which is established, but continues to be developed, and which features a good balance of local Emiratees and expatriates. In keeping with tashas’ franchise format the restaurant will be co-owned and managed by a local franchisee, Dubai-born Mubarak Binfahad, a well-known and highly respected businessman. Binfahad comments, “I wanted to bring a brand to Dubai that resonated with both the locals and the expatriates; a brand that speaks of luxury and sophistication while still being relaxed. The synergies between tashas, Natasha, Savva and myself is fantastic and we hope to open many more restaurants together in the Middle East.” tashas’ business model centres on the philosophy of unique “Signatures”, in that no two tashas are the same. Each restaurant showcases a bespoke interior which ensures its individual identity, and each restaurant has a unique Signature menu, in addition to the Classic café menu which can be enjoyed in the restaurants across the network. The Signature design traditionally influences the Signature style of food served in the restaurant. Sideris says, “As this is our first international store, we wanted to bring an African flavour to the Dubai casual dining landscape. The restaurant interior design is warm and colonial with lots of gold accents to create a luxurious ambiance. Given the bespoke nature of the restaurant we needed to source the majority of the décor from South Africa. We collaborated with South Africa artists and lighting and furniture design specialists to ensure that a sense of South African hospitality is prevalent in this experience.” True to form, the Classic and Signature menus are tailored to the Dubai market. “A great deal of research was undertaken to ensure that our final menus were ideally suited to patrons’ palates. Our Classic café menu was adjusted to incorporate local flavours, while our Signature menu is very refined and geared to Dubai’s many discerning, internationally well-travelled guests; so our clients can enjoy either café-style food, or more sophisticated dishes suitable for business meetings. Sideris concludes, “This foray into the international market heralds a new chapter for tashas and the timing couldn’t be more perfect with the launch of our first cook book, taking place in October. We are confident that the tashas concept will be well received in Dubai and on the strength of its anticipated performance, we hope to open another three restaurants in the next three years in this market.”     For further information:
Kevin Hedderwick Group Chief Executive Famous Brands Ltd Telephone: 011 651 5812 Julian Gwillim Aprio Mobile: 082 452 4389