Hospitality’s 'Man of the Year'
Challenges and successes
Shortly after Ramy’s election to president, the country was overtaken by the food safety crisis, a campaign against which was held by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). The Syndicate has adopted the most adequate approach to cope with the situation and to support the whole industry. According to Ramy, the Syndicate was at the core of discussions resulting in a long-awaited food safety law that was adopted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Public Health. The Syndicate took part in multiple activities related to general public health, such as recycling campaigns for hospitality establishments and food safety awareness seminars, as well as highlighting industry tips.
Through a partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, F&B operators applying for licensing, will now need to approach the Syndicate, in order to obtain a Certificate of Conformity as a prerequisite. The Syndicate will assign mystery shoppers to make sure continuous inspections are taking place. This will improve the longevity of an establishment, by ensuring that the owners are qualified to operate in the hospitality industry, and will also enhance human resources and general professionalism in the sector.
Ramy’s cabinet has also lobbied to lessen the fines of restaurants that were found to be non-conforming to the MOPH’S standards during the first food safety inspections. This new update serves the sector’s current needs and allows fair treatment for establishments based on scale and operations,” says Ramy.
Commenting on his first year as president, Ramy remarks, “Despite the many challenges our industry has faced during this past year, I am proud to say that the Syndicate was able to accomplish so much and drive so many initiatives.” Ramy also mentions that their new office was recently renovated for the first time since 1946.
He also notes that the Lebanese diaspora, coupled with the increase of Lebanese vacationing abroad and lack of tourists visiting Lebanon – due security risks – has created a trend of increased supply compared to demand.
The Syndicate signed the Private Sector Commitment to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics for Tourism on February of this year, as part of a commitment to revive and improve tourism in Lebanon by promoting and implementing the values of responsible and sustainable tourism development. Moreover, members of the Syndicate have participated in trips to the U.S., China, and Belarus and attended trade exhibitions and training seminars, aimed at attracting tourists to Lebanon and strengthening mutual investments. “These international trips allow us to represent Lebanon as a leader in the hospitality sector in the region, improving awareness for foreign investors to visit the country.”
Al Sultan Brahim awarded
In September 2015, Al Sultan Brahim was awarded ‘The Best Quality Restaurant in the Arab World 2016’ by the League of Arab States. Al Sultan Brahim was nominated by the Ministry of Tourism, from amongst a number of Lebanese Restaurants. “Despite the current situation in Lebanon, Al Sultan Brahim will inaugurate its new branch in Beirut Central District, spanning 1,800 square meters, with contemporary and ecological designs, along with modern kitchens featuring the highest food safety standards.” Investment in this property has risen to USD 6.5 million.
Tony Ramy previously launched and currently manages numerous concepts in the hospitality sector – in addition to Al Sultan Brahim and Diwan restaurants in Lebanon and the region, including Al Falamanki, BO18, Trainstation, and Mama Pita Mediterranean Grill (Texas, USA).
Ramy is also expanding some of these concepts in the region, increasing job opportunities and bringing the Lebanese flavors to different parts of the region. These include two Al Sultan Brahim outlets in Kuwait expected to open in 2016, with a USD 8 million investment. Al Sultan Brahim is already franchised in Qatar and opening soon in UAE. Mood Village, the company behind Al Falamanki, is opening an outlet in Dubai in March 2016. It will be located at the Jumeirah Beach Road Hotel. Investment in the property is USD 6 million.
On another level, Ramy is also planning to open a new Mama Pita outlet in New York in 2017. Mama Pita, a Mediterranean specialty grill restaurant designed for the U.S., was first launched in Dallas.
On the local side, Diwan Beirut underwent a facelift giving it a more casual identity, and is planning an expansion across the country and abroad. Another Al Falamanki is scheduled to open in Beirut in 2017. It will be located in Raouche area, and will replace the old Nasr Restaurant. The property will have a 1,500 m2 of space overlooking the Pigeon Rocks, and can seat up to 800 guests. It also has a USD 5 million investment.
Despite the many challenges our industry has faced during this past year, I am proud to say that the Syndicate was able to accomplish so much and drive so many initiatives