It is not unusual to come across an entrepreneur who has brilliant ideas, but unfortunately lacks the business acumen and knowledge to bring their product to market. But with the right motivation and drive, any aspiring businessperson can overcome the odds and eventually strike it big.
Meet local Omani entrepreneur Ali al Maamari and his business partner Khalid al Nabhani, co-founders of the ‘5-Minute Grilled Burger’, which is creating waves in Suhar since it was launched a couple of months ago. The flavoursome and scrumptious burger is all the rage in this port city with foodies taking to social media to celebrate what they describe as international-style ‘comfort food’ with a distinctly Omani twist.
Indeed, buoyed by the huge popularity of the fast-food brand, the duo has plans to roll out more outlets of the ‘5-Minute Grilled Burger’ in Suhar and across the Sultanate, and one day perhaps take it overseas into the Gulf and the wider world. So what’s unique about the ‘5-Minute Grilled Burger’? It’s not simply international fast-food transplanted into Oman, says Ali. “What Khalid and I have sought to do is to offer an international fast-food favourite that has been suitably tweaked to appeal to customers here in Oman. After a lot of groundwork and research, we came up with a burger menu that offers the freshest ingredients grilled and prepared to the highest standards – all in five minutes flat!”
Introducing ‘The 5-Minute Grilled Burger’ was no cakewalk though, says Ali. “We knew we had to do our homework, so we decided to travel first to the Philippines, which is a foodie’s paradise, to explore the market for ideas and fresh ingredients. We studied different recipes and gleaned useful tips on burger grilling. This was followed by a trip to the United Arab Emirates, primarily to source materials for our business.”
After a great deal of deliberation and market study, the co-founder came to a pivotal conclusion: that a certain type of French cheese, mixed into Angus beef and blended with a precise spices and flavourings, would result in the signature burger at the heart of the 5-Minute Grilled Burger saga.
“We tried out this recipe and stumbled upon a burger sandwich – available in beef and chicken flavours – of a truly distinctive taste. Together with the fact that the ingredients are fresh and nutritious, and the burgers ready to be tucked into within five minutes flat, we realized we had a success story on our hands.”
Hungry customers turning up at the new start-up’s maiden outlet in Suhar Wilayat are not only assured of a delectable burger-based meal, but equally, can tuck into the dish within five minutes of placing the order. The combination of taste and speedy catering is the USP of the ‘5-minute grilled burger’, Ali points out.
Importantly, the burger outlet is far any run-of-the-mill diner. Manning the outlet, both at the customer-facing and food-preparation sections of the eatery, are young Omanis – exemplifying an effort by Ali and Khalid to make the ‘5-Minute Grilled Burger’ brand a truly Omani success story.
“Our goal from the very outset was to recruit Omanis as full-time or part-time staff. In doing so, we are also keen to change present-day mindsets towards careers in the food service industry. Jobs in the food service and catering industry are as dignified and rewarding as other jobs. Of course, there are challenges in attracting young Omanis, but we will persevere,” said Ali.
The co-founders credit the business’s early success to the power of social media. “Thanks to social media, word about our brand and offerings is getting out across Suhar and beyond. We are leveraging the power of social media to promote our brand, and there are expressions of interest coming from parts of Oman.”
Keen to sustain the high standards that underpin the brand, Ali and Khalid have taken it upon themselves to monitor quality control, workplace hygiene and preparation processes. “The menu has been carefully planned and designed keeping in mind the tastes of our customers and the high standards they expect of us!”
The businessmen acknowledge that starting and sustaining a business is not without its share of challenges. “We spent a lot of time doing the groundwork, trying to understand the nature of this business, studying the market potential, and finally coming up with our customized product. It’s after a lot of struggles and disappointments that we finally came through. Having through gone these ups-and-downs, Khalid and I would like to encourage our young Omani entrepreneurs out there to preserve despite the odds. No doubt, you will encounter obstacles and setbacks, but if you keep at it, success will soon be yours to enjoy!”
Emboldened by their initial success, Al Maamari and Al Nabhani recently opened negotiations with a major food processing company in Oman to supply their secret recipes behind the grilled burgers. In the medium term, the partners plan to roll out eateries under the ‘5-Minute Grilled Burger’ brand across the Sultanate and into the Gulf soon thereafter. The ultimate goal is to go international, underscoring the ambitions of two youngsters who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of young Omanis.
Hammam Al Badi