Communicate catches up with Mohamad Bitar, founder and managing director of JF Street Food (previously Just Falafel) on its rebranding.
Why the rebranding? As far as the general public is concerned, Just Falafel was quite a relatable and successful brand. Won’t the new branding affect its success adversely?
When we say brand, we mean our business. We have operated as a vegetarian fast food chain for the past seven years. With customers’ constant change of needs and demands, there is a sea change in the market as the millennial consumer is now smarter about food. They want to know where the food comes from, are seeking a better dining experience and yet, still want great value. This new dining segment is called fast casual. It is new to the UAE but it is the fastest growing food segment in the US. As millennials’ needs are changing, we are changing too. We are reshaping our business – or our brand – to compete by offering the taste of authentic street food and an experience our guests seek. Our menu will offer even more choices and variety in an authentically Mediterranean way, while still retaining the favourites – falafels. We are improving on what we started, both, in food quality and restaurant ambience and the feedback so far is phenomenal.
What are your plans to roll out awareness regarding the new branding?
We are going to enter the US market with the new fast casual concept. A restaurant is an experience so we plan to focus first and foremost on the location with great new designs and great tasting food. One of our core competencies is social media engagement. We will reach out and build relationships with millennials through leading social media practices. As for the UAE, we have been testing the new branding and menu in one of our locations. We are scheduled to shut down most of our restaurants to undergo a full renovation and introduce the new menu.
Was the rebranding a result of some research or feedback?
First, we conducted a study with Tecnomics, a food research firm in the US that helped us shape our new brand offer and experience. We will be developing guest satisfaction research to ensure we are pleasing and delighting our guests globally. The insights here drove our rebranding efforts.
Will we see more regional tie-ups with local artists and such?
The restaurant business is local. We intend to be part of the communities we do business with and to do so; we will celebrate emerging artists and talented leaders in the art industry.