There will be no hiding for anyone with a sweet tooth in Kuwait, UAE, or Jordan.

Nestle Toll House Café by Chip signed a franchise agreement with Royal Food Services Company to develop cafes throughout the three countries, with 48 locations set to open over the next decade.

"The demand over there is unbelievable for the brand," says Ziad Dalal, founder and CEO of Crest foods, the franchisor of Nestle Toll House Café by Chip. "Nestle as a brand is probably stronger in the Middle East, exposure-wise, than it is in the U.S."

The agreement sets the stage for Royal Food, which plans to open more than 20 outlets of premium food franchises in the Middle East over the next five years.

Nestle Toll House Café by Chip launched in 2000 in the U.S.and has expanded to 93 locations in the States and two in Lebanon.

Dalal says his Lebanese heritage played a role in expanding the brand to the Middle East, but it was the locals' fervor for the brand that sealed the deal when considering development options.

"The strength of the brand in the Middle East is very strong," Dalal says. "These guys take the coffee shop or the dessert cafe seriously. It's not like us here, who just go to Dunkin' to grab a cup of coffee and go. There, they make it their environment; they sit down, hang out, and enjoy it."

To transform grab-and-go American dessert dining into a chic experience, Dalal had to enhance the Nestle concept into a more indulgent one. “We had to modify the concept, enhance it, upgrade it, make it more indulging,” he says. He emphasizes the importance of indulgence in locales outside the U.S., where buying a cookie or latte is a trendy social moment.

"It's the same product, but we have to take it a step further," he says. "In the U.S., we don't have table service. We went into table service there where we're serving all of our indulging products on, literally, china."

Extending the presentation and jazzing up the atmosphere in the Middle East has translated to a better Nestle customer experience in the U.S. Dalal believes the insight of the Middle Eastern expansion actually sets Nestle apart from the competition.

"Our marketing department and our operating team have gotten some learnings that we have implemented here," Dalal says. "We are seeing an uptick in our customer satisfaction, an uptick in our growth, even the imaging in the cafes is going to another level. That is what is separating us from the traditional competition in our zone."

By Sonya Chudgar

Desserts, Emerging Concepts, Growth, News, Pizza