Established in 2002, the noodle house is the key growth brand of Dubai-based Jumeirah Restaurants. The Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant chain now has 19 global locations — including restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait, Riyadh, Lahore, and Cyprus.
the noodle house provides a unique combination of wholesome food and energetic ambience. Inspired by the food and nightlife of Southeast Asian cities – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Jakarta – the restaurant offers delicious Asian delicacies in an informal, stylish setting. The brand also places high importance on offering a variety of healthy choices – all menu items are trans-fat free and MSG-free. In addition, the noodle house encourages partners to source ingredients locally, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to sustainable and fresh fare.
This week, Jumeirah announced an agreement with U.K.’s EQ Group to open 27 locations across Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), the first of which will open this year. The deal, which follows recent announcements to open the noodle house in Russia, Morocco, and Lebanon in 2012, supports the vision of Jumeirah Restaurants to enter mainland Europe and the U.S., two key markets that will strengthen the global presence of the brand.
In support of their growth efforts, Jumeirah Restaurants will exhibit at the annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on May 5-8, in order to bring the noodle house concept to the U.S. and effectively engage potential partners for the franchise. (For more information on the noodle house’s franchise model, NRA show attendees can visit booth #4968).
I had the opportunity to reconnect with Phil Broad, the Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC, to talk about the company’s recent partnership with EQ Group and their participation in the NRA Show in Chicago this weekend. (To learn more about Phil, check out my first interview with him published in March of this year).
Franchise Chatter (FC): Jumeirah Restaurants recently announced a partnership with EQ Group in the U.K. Why is EQ the right fit for the brand? What do you look for in a partner?
Phil Broad (PB): We look for potential partners who have strong restaurant and hospitality experience and who are like minded. With EQ Group, we have certainly found a team that is very focused, understand the benefit of brands, and have strong expertise in the Great Britain market.
FC: This is Jumeirah Restaurants’ first expansion in Western Europe. What’s the next step from a business development perspective?
PB: We also signed Morocco in the last few weeks and are now looking to finalize agreements in Turkey, an East African territory, and potentially a mainland Europe territory. Understandably, we have an enormous amount of interest in the brand as it is on trend and already established.
FC: You’re planning to be at this weekend’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. What are you looking to accomplish there? What are your expectations for the show?
PB: We have attended a couple of shows in the U.S. (including Franchise Expo South in Miami) and really see the NRA as an opportunity to showcase the noodle house brand to a wider audience, connect with potential partners and, who knows, maybe even sign a deal! The NRA really does attract a lot of trade names, and we hope to use the show to start building relationships for the future.
FC: Is Chicago a focus market for the noodle house? How do you identify other U.S. target markets?
PB: We have a target list of cities where we’d like to be in the U.S., including Chicago. In identifying other U.S. target markets, we pride ourselves on the quality of the partner, not about the number of restaurants to open.
I also had the opportunity to interview Lloyd Carter, Executive Development Chef of Jumeirah Restaurants, to talk about the unique menu and concept of the noodle house.
Lloyd, a British national originally from Stourbridge, West Midlands, has had a passion for cooking from a very early age. Lloyd studied practical catering, did an apprenticeship in the South of France, and was mentored by Stuart Phillips while working at Hundred House Hotel in Norton. In 2001, Lloyd was employed by MSL Global and spent two years traveling with the Jaguar F1 Racing Team as part of their catering division. Moving back to the UK in 2003, Lloyd joined The Crowne at Iverley as Head Chef before being offered the position as Development Chef at Kerry Foods LTD. At Kerry Foods, Lloyd gained invaluable experience in ingredient sourcing, new product development, recipe costing, and food innovation.
In November 2008, Lloyd relocated to Dubai, joining Alshaya LLC as Production Manager. At Alshaya, he managed a team of 80 staff and the day-to-day running of their production facility, which supplies finished food products to Starbucks UAE, Le Pain Quotidien, Dean and Deluca, and other Alshaya casual dining outlets.
In October 2010, he was recruited by Jumeirah Group’s dedicated branded restaurant division, Jumeirah Restaurants LLC, as Executive Development Chef. At Jumeirah Restaurants, Lloyd oversees recipe and menu development across the company’s various brands, which includes the noodle house (Southeast Asian), Urbano (Italian), Rivington Grill (British), and The Ivy (international brasserie).
FC: When we first learned about the noodle house, Phil talked about the recipe bank. How does Jumeirah Restaurants develop its recipes?
Lloyd Carter (LC): We have now been open for ten years, and over that period we have developed some amazing dishes that our customers have come to love and return for. We continually reinvigorate our menus and adapt the taste to the local market. We also have an amazingly talented set of chefs from many parts of Southeast Asia who are continually surprising and delighting us with new ideas to build our brand. And, of course, I have a broad knowledge of the cuisine.
FC: Southeast Asian flavors are booming worldwide. Are there any flavors or food preferences in specific markets that might be surprising to our readers?
LC: I believe that the key to successful Southeast Asian cuisine is the blending of all the different flavors and the fabulous presentation, and we have both.
FC: Now that you’ve entered the U.K. market, how will your menu offerings differ from other locations? Are there any particular types of dishes that appeal to the U.K. consumer?
LC: I really think that our cuisine will somewhat surprise the U.K. market as there really isn’t a competitor who operates in our space. U.K. customers will really appreciate the high quality and consistency of our food and the speed of delivery to the table.
FC: What similarities/differences do you expect to see in the U.S. vs. other markets?
LC: The U.S. is a very mature restaurant market; however, I really believe that this new addition will be embraced. the noodle house is a unique concept with an open kitchen and clean lines where you can see your food being freshly cooked for you — a spectacle to behold for new customers. Additionally, the U.S. market is now very similar to the U.K. market. Increasingly, brands are moving cross-border: not just from the U.S., but from the U.K. to the U.S., which has just recently seen a couple of U.K. brands entering Washington, D.C.