Culinaire and Beyond
Bringing to Bahrain the expertise and ideologies to enhance the culinary industry, Leena Al Mannai plans to revolutionise one of the rising industries in the region
Boasting a deep passion for gastronomy, Leena Al Mannai holds a vision to elevate the FnB industry in the Kingdom. One of the most popular feat of Bahrain is rising number of restaurateurs and culinary enthusiasts looking to engage in exciting and hearty dining experiences, and Leena has set to give the customers just that. Founder of Culinaire and Beyond, the only Bahraini company with an international partnership in the FnB and hospitality sector as the Authorized Licensee of the The Next Idea (TNI), an A-Z solutions for entrepreneurs in the industry by offering them specialised and practical solutions that would allow them to cater to the different tastes and preferences of their eclectic customer base. Leena spoke to Perle Magazine about Culinaire and Beyond and how she aims to establish the food scene in the country and the region as one of its driving forces.
If you could please tell us a little about yourself?
I have a Bachelors degree in Microbiology and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) plus Certificates in Project Management, Restaurant and Kitchen Management.
My experience in the public and government sector plus the experience of analysing the safety of F&B products coupled with a passion for gastronomy, further reinforces my knowledge in the F&B industry.
What is the idea behind Culinaire and Beyond?
Our vision is to bridge the gap that currently lies in the F&B and hospitality sectors in Bahrain by bringing the framework and expertise that Culinaire & Beyond’s partnership with The Next Idea possess. My intention is to support entrepreneurs and SME’s to achieve their aspirations and scale up their businesses with the help of a team that focuses entirely on the F&B and hospitality sector. Furthermore I’d like Culinaire and Beyond to be a key facilitator in bringing global brands to set up operations in Bahrain whether they are retail or wholesale focused.
What inspired you to set up this business?
Culinaire & Beyond started when I personally needed some advice specific to the hospitality sector. As I reached out to organizations I realized that a limited number of them serviced the hospitality sector specifically from a Bahraini viewpoint.
It made no sense to me that the F&B was poised for a compound annual growth of 4.2% by 2019 in Bahrain, yet it was a struggle to find relevant companies who were servicing the needs of Entrepreneurs, SME’s and larger F&B players within the hospitality sector.
Hence, my team and I reviewed the facts and figures, and having relevant experience in this sector we did an in depth analysis of the struggles entrepreneurs, SME’s and F&B franchisee’s who wish to launch in Bahrain have to face on a daily basis to set up healthy businesses. Since I’m lucky to be equipped with the right educational background and have the right team to execute F&B strategies it made complete sense to start a company that focuses on a sector that is poised to grow.
This is where I reached out to Ancill from The Next Idea, and I must add that his collaboration brings international experience to our company. At Culinaire & Beyond, we support our clients to prepare for emerging trends in the industry through our international partnership.
What are some of the services that clients can benefit from at Culinaire and Beyond?
The company has all the necessary resources for the research of innovative intercontinental recipes and adapting them for local palates, engineering new menus, exploring new restaurant themes and designs, and discovering upcoming trends in the F&B and Hospitality Sectors.
We’re equally excited to help new concepts come to life and have recently been added to the Rowad Partners Program. Simultaneously, we realise that many small businesses in Bahrain need customised advice and solutions on scaling up and optimising growth, and we’re equally excited to serving their needs. Bahrain has jumped up 71 places and is ranked at number 73 compared to it’s previous ranking of 142 for World Bank’s list of Easiness To Carry Out Business Activities Index. We welcome global brands to set up factories and retail stores in Bahrain provide 360-degree solutions from ideation to execution. We aim to become the answer for all your problems whether it’s a menu you’d like to design, the interior of a new creative concepts and ambiances for F&B outlets within Malls, Hotels, Touristic developments and Restaurants, or renovation of an old F&B brand to cater to an ever-changing audience.
Who are some of the clients you have worked with within the country and the region?
As you already know Culinaire & Beyond is the Authorized Licensee of The Next Idea in the region. The Next Idea, winner of the 2016 Lux Hospitality Award for the most Innovative Hospitality Group, California has played a key role in offering services to the following brand in the region: in the UAE – PIZZARO, PRESSMAN’S , MOUNT BAVA; in Saudi Arabia- ART CAFÉ FOOD TRUCK, SHAWARMA FUSION, HERFY, KPMG; in Bahrain, HEVEA, KOORA, CALEXICO, CREPE CAFÉ; in Qatar – IFC GROUP (CHILLIS AND JOHNNY ROCKETS FRANCHISEE); and in Oman – CREPE CAFÉ.
When clients approach you for food consultancy, what are some of the elements they are looking to improve upon?
Clients approach us for a wide array of solutions ranging from increasing sales, enhancing footfall, rebranding , preparing effective marketing plans, creative concepts and ambiances for F&B outlets within Malls, Hotels, Touristic developments and Restaurants and creating brand strategies that are specific to the FnB and Hospitality sectors.
How have you seen the F&B industry evolve over the years in Bahrain and in the region?
Well, as you’ve witnessed, hospitality & F&B have been a stable undisturbed market for the longest time with bigger players growing bigger each year till airbnb, Tripadviser, Agoda and Talabat happened. Consumers have started dictating what they want, commenting on what they don’t like and brands are being forced to respond to their queries to maintain their desired market share.
Culinaire & Beyond is extremely aware of current and future trends, and we’re certain we can utilize this knowledge to ad value to both sectors in this disruptive, ever changing environment. Furthermore, as you must have witnessed services and products are witnessing a mammoth change. People no longer want to buy ‘things’, they want to be roped into a memorable experience and we advise every brand to be careful not to take this.
How can those interested in your services approach you?
We’re happy to meet clients at our office located in the heart of Bahrain, at Bahrain Bay. We value our one to one conversations with clients since we believe human interaction supersedes all electronic exchanges. However we’re equally proactive in replying to queries via e-mail or telephone.
What further changes do you expect to see in the FnB & Hospitality industry in the region?
I can envision exponential growth is the F&B and hospitality sectors in Bahrain based on the insights we have gathered over time as well as by analysing the predicted increase in tourists to Bahrain.
Tourists and residents alike love experimenting with unique FnB concepts, and we see a welcoming shift in local businesses catering to the local acquired fusion of great taste and a memorable experience to boost.
How do you feel about the ever-expanding FnB industry in the Kingdom?
The F&B industry is booming with a vast potential for growth, and many Bahraini businesses and entrepreneurs are great and very creative talents that withholds opportunities to develop its business to franchises that can obtain a higher share in the neighboured region market. Thus, contribute to this Sectors growth plus set Bahrain as a trend-setter market that has well developed Brands carried out to the GCC and Global markets.
I truly believe that Bahrain’s image as an affordable tourist destination also contributes to the growth of the hospitality industry. At Culinaire & Beyond, our vision to achieve runs in parallel with The Economic Vision 2030 launched by His Majesty King Hamid bin Isa Al Khalifa, and we are fully committed to work hand in hand for the progress of the Kingdom, especially the touristic and hospitality sector which plays a vital role in contributing to the nation’s treasury.
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