Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal plans to open as many as 30 vegan restaurants in the Middle East region, with talks underway for outlets and conceptual menus in Dubai, Jeddah and Amman as well as Four Seasons hotels in the region.
As part of Folia – his consultancy and teaching partnership with renowned vegan chef Matthew Kenney – Prince Khaled told CEO Middle East he hopes to see between 25 and 30 plant-based eateries open in the region, more than double the previously announced ten.
The Folia partnership was launched with the aim of introducing vegan options on menus in restaurants around the world. The venture started with a plant-based menu at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills earlier this year, with 10 plant-based items including starters, entrées, and desserts created by Kenney.
The successful launch has encouraged Prince Khaled to further his expansion plans for plant-based restaurants. With one already open in Bahrain and another being developed in Riyadh, Prince Khaled said the plan is to open the restaurants through licensing and franchise agreements.
“I’ve announced that I would like to open 10 restaurants, like the restaurant I have in Bahrain, throughout the region, [called] Plant Café. KBW Ventures is working on a licensing deal and a franchising opportunity, as opposed to doing it myself,” he said.
Prince Khaled said he will never open a restaurant “for the rest of my life”, describing it as the “toughest and most gruelling business ever”.
He said licensing and franchise agreements will allow more restaurants to open and will take up less of his time and see more capital to be deployed in venture companies.
“My partners and I shifted the model so it will be more of a licensing agreement – we’re already opening up one in Riyadh. We’ve got some preliminary talks in Dubai for about two, and in Amman, and Jeddah,” Prince Khaled said.
“The 10 restaurants that I’m thinking of opening right now have grown to about 25 or 30. How’s that going to work? KBW Ventures is already in talks with Four Seasons so we can have our brand in Four Seasons properties in the Middle East – that automatically opens up six or seven locations in the region. So that’s an indirect way of me getting these products into restaurants.”
Four Seasons is part-owned by Kingdom Holding Company, led by Prince Khaled’s father, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman. The privately-held hotel management company is owned by Kingdom Holding Company, Cascade Investment Management, controlled by Bill Gates and Triple Holdings, an investment vehicle for Isadore Sharp. KHC and Cascade each hold 45 percent of Four Seasons, while Triple Holdings owns ten percent.
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