Villa Enterprises Management Ltd. Inc., a global multi-concept restaurant operator, is continuing to expand its international footprint with the grand opening of its Villa Italian Kitchen and South Philly Steaks & Fries brands in Benghazi, Libya. The openings mark the first under an exclusive franchise development deal with Villa Enterprises franchise veteran and native of Libya, Fakhri Amer.

Currently, Amer owns and operates four unique Villa Enterprises concepts in Dubai and has plans to open 28 additional units in the next five years. Villa Enterprises has awarded Amer franchise rights in Libya for its array of quick-serve brands as he returns to his native country to help rebuild following the revolution.

The Villa Italian Kitchen and South Philly Steaks & Fries locations opened this month at the first shopping mall, Al Hayat Mall, constructed in Benghazi, Libya. As part of the exclusive development deal, Amer plans to open six more units within the next year and will play an integral role in the commercial development of the country through his company, Al Quswaa Restaurant Management, which also specializes in construction and real estate.

“A lot has changed since leaving Libya nearly three years ago as a refugee, so I was thrilled when the government asked me to return home to help rebuild,” Amer says. “Libyans embrace American brands, and I know Villa’s quick-serve concepts will be well-received. We’re hiring and training local residents to run the restaurants and are sourcing food from the region to help stimulate the economy.”

In addition, Villa Enterprises is partnering with Amer to position his Dubai restaurants as the hub for the company in the Middle East. As part of the partnership, Amer will open the doors to his Festival City location in Dubai—which operates a Villa Italian Kitchen, South Philly Steaks & Fries, Green Leaf’s and Bananas—to serve as a training store for new franchisees and employees when they join the Villa family.

“We have been aggressively expanding in the Middle East for the past several years and are always looking for opportunities to enter new markets with multi-unit deals,” says vice president of international development, Seamus MacTreinfhir. “Fast food and quick-serve American brands are in high demand in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and Libyans are extremely eager to see, buy and taste, which presents a great opportunity to grow our company.” 

Over the next four years, Villa Enterprises plans to expand its existing efforts and dedication to diversification throughout the Middle East. Currently, Villa has concepts in Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and United Arab Emirates. Villa Enterprises is actively recruiting new franchisees in the Middle East, and Villa Enterprises’ variety of concepts are expected to be introduced through multi-unit development deals with franchisees in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and North Africa, among others.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, News, Villa Enterprises