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Dubai-Based, Southeast Asian-Inspired Noodle Franchise Plans U.S. Expansion (Exclusive Q&A with Phil Broad of the noodle house)

by Franchise Chatter on March 13, 2012

in Franchise Chatter Exclusive, Q & A Interview, Restaurant Franchise

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Established in 2002, the noodle house was created by Dubai-based luxury brand Jumeirah Group and is the flagship of its dedicated restaurant division, Jumeirah Restaurants, LLC.  The franchise currently has 19 global locations and plans to expand into the U.S. market this year. the noodle house offers a variety of healthy Southeast Asian cuisine (trans-fat free, MSG-free, locally/sustainably sourced-ingredients) at an affordable price point ($15 -$18pp).

Phil Broad is the Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC, where he is tasked to set up and license innovative and successful casual dining restaurant concepts, including the noodle house, worldwide. It also has the license agreement for 11 of the Caprice Holdings brands including The Ivy, Annabels, Rivington Grill, among others, to expand across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

Prior to joining Jumeirah Group, Phil was with Starbucks Coffee Company as Managing Director for the UK and Ireland. He has also been Managing Director of T.G.I. Friday’s in the UK and held leadership positions in Tesco and Pizza Hut, where he was responsible for operations, as well as business and concept development. In addition, Phil owned and operated Outback Steakhouse restaurants in the UK from 2000 to 2006.

Phil Broad holds a degree in Hotel and Catering Management from Westminster College in London.

Phil Broad, Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC

Phil Broad, Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC

Franchise Chatter (FC):  Can you tell us a bit about the history of the noodle house?

Phil Broad (PB):  The noodle house originally opened in Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai over ten years ago. From day one, it was a resounding success with queues at the door. Since that date, we have now opened over 19 restaurants in 9 different territories, including six stores in our home market of Dubai.

FC:  What are the unique features of your concept and menu that set you apart from other Asian food franchise concepts?

PB:  The key points of difference are the theatrics of the restaurant which tantalize the senses — the open kitchen allows guests to hear, see, and smell the food being served up — and then of course the delicious taste that has been refined over the last 10 years. Our menu comprises the best of Southeast Asia, including worldwide favorites from China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.

FC:  Why do you think now is the right time to bring the noodle house to the U.S.?

PB:  The U.S. is a very mature eating out market and new concepts are readily accepted. We have tested our food on over 110 different nationalities from both the East and West due to the multicultural nature of the city of Dubai, and customers love the taste profile and flavor of our food. We also see that there is no major competitor who operates in our area of full service restaurants serving Southeast Asian cuisine. By all reports, despite the tough economic climate, the U.S. is showing signs of significant growth in the restaurant market.

the noodle house Restaurant InteriorsFC:  Are you offering the noodle house in the U.S. as a franchise opportunity or a licensing opportunity? 

PB:  the noodle house is a franchise opportunity. We are looking for potential franchisees to work with who have restaurant experience and a passion for the industry. We are initially looking to enter the market on the East Coast but it really is dependent on finding the right partner.

FC:  Are you making any modifications to your concept, menu or recipes specifically for the U.S. market?  If so, please tell us about them.

PB:  With the support of a franchise partner, we would look to present the noodle house in the best possible way to the U.S. market whilst maintaining the fundamental elements and values of the noodle house brand. We have an amazing recipe bank of over 150 recipes, which have all been tried and tested in our multicultural city, and so we can always tailor the menu to suit the market. We believe that the concept in general will be received very well as it stands today.

the noodle house KitchenFC:  Please tell us about your successful home delivery model? Is this going to be available in the U.S. as well?

PB:  We have been extremely happy with the launch of our home delivery business some two years ago and it really is restaurant quality food at home. Extensive testing of our product and packaging, as well as delivery times, has been undertaken to ensure the product stays as close to restaurant quality as possible. The safety of our delivery drivers is also paramount so we decided early on to only use cars for this service. Recently, we have launched online ordering for our Dubai customers and our mystery diner results for home delivery are some of the highest in the company.

We will definitely look at the viability of home delivery and curbside in the U.S. and implement the service should it be the right way forward.

FC:  What kind of infrastructure do you have in place to support your future franchisees in the U.S.?

PB:  Our team has spent countless hours over the years firstly putting together our operating manuals and recipe bank to not only ensure that they are full of the right information for our partners but also that they are user friendly. We also offer an online portal for all our partners to use which not only has the information from the manuals but also further support documents like marketing artwork, finance forms, etc. We use this portal to regularly share information with our partners like awards, new team members, new territory signings, etc.

But our biggest asset to support this market is our operating team, many of whom have extensive F&B and hospitality experience in developed nations, including the U.S..

Singapore Noodles from the noodle houseFC:  What are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?  Are there any minimum net worth requirements?

PB:  We are looking for individuals or organizations that have the capability to open multiple outlets in a given territory. This capability would need to be both experience as well as the finances to back the opening of restaurant operations. But the most important element with any partner is trust and a commitment from both parties to build the brand together.

FC:  What are the franchise fees, royalty fees, and estimated initial investment for the noodle house?  Will you be collecting marketing fees as well?

PB:  The initial investment for a franchise of the noodle house consists of three principal components. 1) Opening fees in respect of each outlet, payable to the franchisor. 2) Technical Fees, payable to the franchisor. 3) Capital expenditure and pre-opening expenses in regards to the building of the outlet.

Once your outlet is open, there will be continuing royalty fees and a marketing fee.

FC:  Can you name a few franchises (inside or outside your industry) that you admire, and why?

PB:  I admire the T.G.I. Friday’s brand as it has continually reinvented itself and kept the brand fresh over the years. I think the incredible growth of Subway has really shown what franchising can do for a business and its partners.

Crystal Shrimp Dumplings from the noodle houseFC:  What are your growth targets for the noodle house in the U.S. in the next 2-3 years?  What is your strategy for recruiting multi-unit franchisees to establish the brand in the U.S. market?

PB:  Success for us in the next 12 to 18 months is to have one store open, as this will open up so many more opportunities as people will then see and feel the brand and love it. Following the opening of the first restaurant, we believe that the success will lead to many more openings. However, we are not in a numbers game and are more focused on opening great quality restaurants, and delivering outstanding food quality and service to our customers. We see the long term opportunity in the U.S. to be 250+ stores.

Our strategy is to establish our name in the market and educate potential partners on our brand.  We have exhibited at the Franchise Expo South in Miami in January 2012 where we spoke with many possible partners as well as media. We will also be attending the NRA Show in Chicago in May and the International Franchise Expo at the Javits Centre in New York in June.

For further information, visit www.thenoodlehouse.com or e-mail info@thenoodlehouse.com.

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