Industry News | February 26, 2009

Uno is a Kuwait Noble's Latest Business Venture

On the heels of a recent opening at the Mall of Dubai, the world's largest mall, Uno Chicago Grill continues its expansion into the Middle East with the opening of its first unit in Kuwait.

With seating for 90, the new Uno launched with two nights of special events attended by local dignitaries before officially opening to the public. The restaurant is located in the Avenue Mall in Kuwait City, just across from an 8,000-square-foot children/family play area.

The Avenue Mall restaurant is one of several new openings in the area for Sofra LLC, the master licensee for Uno in the Middle East, which signed a 20-unit development deal covering nine countries: Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain.

The licensee for the new Kuwait City Uno is Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Sabah Al Nasser Al Sabah, a member of the ruling royal family, whose extensive history of successful business ventures promises to set the stage for another successful Uno franchise. Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Sabah Al Nasser Al Sabah said he chose to establish a partnership with Uno because he expects pizza to be a very popular signature menu offering. In addition, he was impressed by the success of the Middle East's first Uno location in Dubai, which set unit sales records.

Continuing its commitment to guest service and satisfaction, Uno's lead chef and concept team have made menu and restaurant design changes to reflect the cultural and taste preferences of diners in each area. For example, pork dishes, as well as alcohol, have been removed from the menu, and Halal-certified meats are featured.

"Uno customers in the region have been some of the most enthusiastic anywhere in the world. Uno is well-suited to their lifestyle and culture," said Frank Guidara, CEO, Uno Chicago Grill. "Further, we've found that Middle Eastern entrepreneurs are aggressively looking to commit their resources to concepts that have a proven track record. We are more than willing to adapt to their local cultures, and, you know what, they love pizza."

The region has also embraced, and been willing to pay for, Uno's commitment to top quality--such as its recent move to become the first chain to bring Certified Angus Beef to Saudi Arabia.

Uno Chicago Grill's expansion in Kuwait is part of a global pattern that goes against recent trends in the industry. Uno has recently extended international franchise development agreements in Korea and Honduras with existing franchise partners. Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico have numerous active candidates for franchises. And in the United States, franchises are also expanding with current franchisees signing development agreements to open restaurants over the next five years.

Uno's growth, despite a report by the restaurant industry research firm Technomic showing a slowdown among other major chains, demonstrates the payoff that results from Uno's commitment to quality.

"We are truly an international brand. No matter where the guest encounters Uno, whether in suburban Boston, Kuwait City, Kuwait, a retail supermarket in New Jersey, the Dallas Fort Worth airport or in the Mall of Dubai, they'll find a 'Best in Class' pizza dining experience," says Guidara. "Our continued worldwide growth shows that we can appeal to every taste and want."

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