By Marjorie Borrell
Phil Broad’s plate is full. As the managing director of Jumeirah Restaurants Inc., he is responsible for the worldwide expansion of The Noodle House, first opened in 2002, in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai. Now the global franchise is preparing to set up house in the United States.
“The Noodle House aims to bridge the gap between fine dining and affordable fast food. Our first noodle house quickly became a popular dining destination serving South East Asian cuisine in a casual, stylish setting,” Broad said. “The concept was inspired by the teeming streets of cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Jakarta where vendors sell aromatic and vibrantly fresh local foods that fill the air with delicious, spicy aromas. The communal tables and visual excitement of the Noodle House’s open kitchen mimic the street stalls of South East Asia.”
Following the successful launch of its first location, The Noodle House opened a second at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, then four more sprung up across the city. Noodle House now has a total of six locations in Dubai.
Since inception, The Noodle House has grown rapidly, expanding across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The average ticket per person is estimated at $15-$20 USD.
“In the ten years since opening our first restaurant, we have expanded into Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus,” Broad said. “We look forward to opening the first noodle house restaurant in Bahrain with our partner this year and are in the advanced stages of negotiations with two more partners that will see the brand extending its footprint across the globe."
The first location opened in Lahore, Pakistan, last year and in October 2011, the group signed a franchise agreement that will expand the brand into Moscow, Russia. This will contribute toward the company's target of having 150 development agreements by the end of 2012.
Taste and technology
Broad’s strategy for appealing to all tastes in all regions is simple.
“In each market we enter, we check flavor profiles and adapt recipes so that ingredients are as fresh and local as possible. We accommodate individuals with allergies and offer a variety of sauces at the table so that each diner can modify their dish to their own taste," he said.
Now, The Noodle House is eyeing its first US location through a specific rollout strategy developed by Broad.
"The Noodle House is being selective about its franchise partners because the most important thing is the relationship they share with their franchisor,” he said. “We work hard to build those relationships, but what makes it easier is the fact that we have an operating system that is tried and tested around the world.”
Consumer acceptance has been driven, in part, by the company's use of technology. There are games at the table and customers can get their bill by tablet. They also are surveyed about their dining experience, can page the manager, and whether they know it or not, supply management with information useful in promoting to them in the future.
In seeking franchise partners, Broad looks for “nice people to do business with.”
“We look for partners who have food and beverage experience, can be brand ambassadors for the noodle house and are committed to growing the brand," he said. “We are aware of our competition’s activity but believe that healthy competition enriches the dining experience, giving diners more options and encouraging us to deliver the best in food quality and service.”
Broad estimates the cost to open a restaurant in the U.S. will be $750,000, which includes a store-opening fee of $35,000 to $50,000. The group will likely make its first US location Washington, D.C., followed by Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and, New York.
The company also will look into the possibility of opening the first New York-based Noodle House in the Jumeirah-owned Essex House.
“Noodle House is a home grown brand that we are really proud of and we are happy to see the interest it is receiving, both in the region and internationally," he said
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