The first thing that caught my attention in Café Najjar’s latest commercial was the guy using a mug, not the traditional Lebanese coffee cup, to drink the coffee but that’s not the first time Café Najjar uses a mug in one of its ads.
Café Najjar is targeting young Lebanese who usually drink their coffee in a mug and are no longer used to Lebanese coffee or maybe find it too strong. Everyone I know at the office or in my surrounding drinks coffee in a mug so it’s smart to target this audience and introduce them to a Lebanese product that’s definitely better tasting than lousy coffee sachets.
Here’s how Najjar explained it:
The Ad brings out a feeling of national pride, reminding Lebanese they have a rich heritage to be proud of, with wonderful shots of the nation’s ocean and coastlines, old souks, customary houses and enchanting method for life…Yet the new confronts, look, feel and sound of the brand have an unmistakable message: Najjar is the inspiration for all coffee drinkers the brilliant peered and the driven youth, since its taste, appeal and spirit are ageless. Café Najjar promises to show the best of Lebanon for the Lebanese everywhere in the World. We thank you for being a loyal consumer. We appreciate all your comments and looking forward for more expansion
I loved the latest “Chef” ad better than the “Surfer” one, it feels more “Lebanese” and the cutest Keira (the little girl) is in it.
One thing though that they should have emphasized on is how to prepare Cafe Najjar in a mug because a mug of Lebanese coffee has way too much caffeine in it, or maybe launch a coffee machine that does it? I found a recipe in the comments for those interested:
For one cup of Cafe Najjar brew:
We need 60ml water with 1 spoon of grind coffee.
For 2 cups of Café Najjar brew:
We need 120 ml with 2 spoons.
For a kettle of 3 cups Café Najjar:
We need 180 ml with 3 spoons.
I’m not a heavy coffee drinker but I will prepare it for my wife this week and see if she likes it.
Roadster’s new menu and the whole new re-branding have been the talk of the town for the past few weeks and there seems to be a lot of mixed opinions on RD’s new identity and their newly launched menu. I think it’s completely normal as people tend to resist change especially if something was already working in their point of view but some are clearly over-reacting or maybe they’re too attached to the old RD identity they don’t want to let go. As I said earlier, I didn’t mind the new change and I’ve been an RD customer for 18 years now, and I’m sure RD lovers will adapt soon to the change and embrace it simply because the quality of food and service are still the same and that’s what counts the most at Roadster, not some new logo and a new table set.
Before tackling the main friction points related to RD’s new identity given the many comments I got on that matter, I will start as promised by a revisit to the new menu and the items I liked the most. I shared the sneak peek post a month ago and I’ve ordered several times from Roadster ever since, so here are the new items that I highly recommend for now:
Loaded Fries (Fries & Cheddar with a mushroom gravy sauce)
I love gravy sauce and these are even better than the Fries & Cheddar.
Kale Chicken Wasabi:
The Kale Chicken Wasabi and the Super Quinoa are the only two salads I’m ordering recently. I’m still undecided which is better.
The new Philly Steak recipe is quite good but I’m ordering the Smoky Chicken more often without the mayo sauce. There’s no garlic in it which is perfect for me.
I got two of my friends hooked on that sandwich. As I said a month ago, this is the perfect meal to have on your cheat day. Nutty Betty is the other burger I’m ordering quite often, I like Peanut butter and its fits perfectly in that burger.
Super-Sized Pancakes: Oreo Lover
I’m enjoying these pancakes better than the chocolate ones. The Cheesecake Sundae Explosion and Lotus Cheesecake are also new desserts worth trying.
Moving on to this whole re-branding drama that’s been ongoing recently, I will share below my thoughts as well as the clarifications I got from Roadster:
Did the prices increase?
The last price increase was four years ago. Those who just realized Roadster increased its prices back in 2011 are clearly not RD customers. As for the new menu items, they are priced reasonably when compared to the existing items.
Did the portions get smaller?
I’ve been visiting Roadster and ordering regularly for the past month and the portions are pretty much the same. I thought the burgers were smaller at first but they are not and RD did confirm that they did no no alterations to any of their portions and sizes. It’s just that the plates and newly introduced wooden boards are bigger. In fact, I remember the boards were already available back when the new Angus burgers and Black burger were launched so the plating hasn’t really changed. It’s just the deeper salad plates and new sandwich trays.
Which items were removed?
The only two items that were removed and caught my attention were the blue cheese sauce and the 220 burgers but the blue cheese sauce was brought back. In fact, the 220’s were even removed before apparently but I didn’t notice because I wasn’t ordering them. As for the not-so popular items, they did the right thing by removing them, and integrating the rest into the new menu. It’s always better to have one consolidated menu without confusing extra ones. Replacing the Frankfurter with the Mad Dawg was a spot-on move.
The new logo and look:
I’ve already covered that part in a previous post and I repeat it: The new RD branch fits with The Backyard’s urban industrial feel. I like the new urban look and it felt awkward walking into an old branch a week ago.
I still have mixed feelings about the logo but I’m not gonna stop visiting Roadster because I don’t like their logo or they have less posters on the wall. That’s like a football fan saying he’s gonna stop cheering for his favorite team because he doesn’t like their new jersey lol!
For those who are curious about the new logo’s meaning, Roadster explained it as “an infinite look, and so you cannot tell where it starts or where it ends, in an attempt to symbolize the enduring relationship we have with our customers”. I could copy paste everything RD shared about the re-branding but I think it’s useless. It takes months and even years for brands to reinvent themselves and people will eventually get used to this change as it’s not a drastic one and the essentials are still there.
RD staff & customer service:
I’ve been visiting Roadster regularly for the past 6 months and the experience was as good as always. Mistakes do happen but Roadster have always prided themselves in following up with their customers properly whenever an issue is raised. Roadster had set the bar really high years ago when it comes to customer service and it hasn’t changed much. In fact, I was looking back at all my Roadster related posts on the blog and I remembered once complaining about tiny forks and getting a reply back from them.
All in all, Lebanese tend to over-react to everything but I think what’s happening is a healthy exercise for Roadster and its customers. I didn’t mind the old Roadster look but I am already used to the new one and I can’t even remember the menu items that were removed at this point. Roadster has always been close to its customer base and I trust they will handle this transitional phase well.
“What are we having for lunch”…”Which nearby restaurants deliver”…”Who has restaurant X’s number”…These questions have become an almost inevitable part of our everyday at the office. Outside of the workplace, this same scenario probably happens in most households and in multiple social settings. The hardest part is finding a place that caters to everybody’s preferences, to spare ourselves going over countless menus before making this “critical” decision.
It goes without saying that having all dining options at our fingertips in a user friendly mobile app or web-based platform would make this process significantly smoother. It’s actually a perfect startup problem to tackle but unfortunately no proper food delivery app has been put in place yet. The only similar food delivery app available is “Onlivery” which was launched four years ago and is still growing.
Nothing else came along until “Wizmates” was brought to my attention. I was first introduced to Wizmates app by a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago, and have been trying it out since. The app is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate. It is location-based, and features at this point over 60 restaurants, including some of Beirut’s most popular restaurants. I can honestly say it is the best online food delivery app we’ve had until now in Beirut. This first version of the app focuses on the Beirut area, with future plans aiming to expand to other parts of the country.
How does it work?
First things first, you can either use Wizmates on the web or you can download the app from the Apple store or the Android market. Enter Wizmates, and it automatically picks up your location and pins it on the map. Based on this location, the app will prompt you to search and find restaurants that deliver around you.
The app will generate a restaurant list that can be organized by the type of food offered. These include, but are not limited to: Lebanese, Sushi, Healthy, Fast Food, Pizza, Burger, Indian. I guess the categories will get updated in time as more restaurants are added to the list.
Once you select a category, a list of representative restaurants will pop up. The app will indicate which restaurants are currently open or closed for service. Pick a restaurant, and the app gives you access to navigate the menu. The menu screen is comprehensive, clear, and easy to browse. It includes a detailed description of each item, as well as the associated price. Once you have made up your mind, you can pick your items of choice and add them to your basket. A cool feature of the app is that it includes a section for special requests such as food restrictions and extras, as well as asking for change if needed.
Once you are done, you can review your selections in the in-basket and finalize your order. You can also enter special instructions at this time too, in case you forgot to on the order screen. The app will prompt you to enter your address. After your first time using the app, you can save your address to use for future orders, making the process even smoother.
Finally, you can choose if you wish to have the order delivered, or make ready for pickup in store.
Can I track my food?
As soon as you place your order, you will receive an email and phone notification. You will also receive notifications when your food is ready to deliver or for pickup.
How do I pay? Are there hidden fees?
The app is free of charge. The delivery charges are set by the restaurants, and the app will not charge any additional fees for your order. The main payment method currently is cash on delivery. I was curious to see if the app will also allow for cashless transactions. The app will actually feature two new methods of payment soon: online credit card payment as well as credit card machines at the door when available.
Which restaurants are taking part in it?
Wizmates currently has a list of over 60 restaurants that includes places such as Chilis, Casper & Gambinis, Sandwich w Noss, Diwan Beirut, and others. The app aims to target every restaurant in town, starting with the most popular spots and branching out to all others.
Will the app allow for delivery from several places at the same time?
Yes, Wizmates will allow for orders from several restaurants. This aims to please different food preferences within the same group. The app developers also told me that they will have their own delivery fleet soon, and therefore will be able to deliver from stores and restaurants that do not offer delivery service or simply cannot afford it.
Wizmates also offers a hot deal feature for delivery. This is a very attractive option for the Lebanese market, where everyone is always looking for a “good deal”. Vouchers and specials will also be featured.
Where can I download the app?
[Wizmates] is a web-based platform and is also available for download on iOS and Android. Most people would go for the mobile app nowadays but I love the website experience as much as the app.
Here’s a small video to show you how easy the process is:
Food is probably the only thing we are still good at in Lebanon and we can still brag about. Nothing beats a typical Lebanese lunch with the tens of hot and cold dishes (mezze) and of course the raw meat and the grilled meats (Kafta, Taouk, Kabab etc ..).
Every year, Travel and Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe and rate cities for a number of qualities, including food. This year, Beirut topped the list followed by San Sebastián and Paris.
Why is Lebanese food so good? Some may argue that Toum (Garlic) is the secret sauce for great Lebanese food. Garlic is indeed essential to almost every Lebanese dish but it’s the variety of dishes and food combinations that we offer that make our food so flavorful and good.
Here’s what the website said about our capital:
Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut, is having a bit of a cultural renaissance—and it’s not just new museums like the striking Aïshti Foundation that have attracted international attention. There’s arguably no better way to sense the friendliness and enthusiasm of Beiruties than by enjoying fresh a meal at Tawlet, a fantastic Lebanese restaurant in the hip Mar Mikhael neighborhood (order goat tartare and the unusual mountain specialty, h’risset ‘akkub: a lamb porridge with wild thistle). Even breakfast here is exciting: order Al Soussi’s fatteh, a traditional dish of toasted pita, chickpeas, yogurt, and pine nuts.
Tawlet and Al Soussi are indeed ideal destinations for enjoying an authentic Lebanese breakfast and lunch.
A “Five Guys” burger & fries place just opened recently in Antoura. It even has five little guys underneath its logo. Obviously it’s not the real deal but I am actually tempted to try it out as I love these small Lebanese burger shops. Last year when I was in Dubai, I went to the real Five Guys to give it a try. It was good but not as good as I thought it would be. I will review it later on this week.
Dewars Lebanon has officially launched The Scotch Egg Club a week ago that will take over Garden State on Monday on the 1st of August. I missed out on the launch but I’m eager to try out the scotch egg. For those who are not familiar with it, a Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and baked or deep-fried. The chefs at the events are flavoring the scotch egg with whiskey.
It’s not the healthiest dish to have but it’s definitely worth a try. I will let you know next Monday how it goes.
If I had seen this ad on TV, I would have never guessed it was a Cafe Najjar one. Beach house, surfer with dreadlocks, beach volley and a camp fire: A drastic change from their latest ads but a good one in my opinion.
It’s a feel-good summer ad and I love how they’re showing beautiful areas and surfers in Lebanon because very few people know that you can actually surf here. There’s one thing that I didn’t get though: Why is he drinking Cafe Najjar in a mug? Who does that?
Alison Beckner came to visit Beirut for four days and the result was “a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East”.
Friday at Baffa House in the lively neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, a visit to the recently reopened Sursock Museum, dinner at Lux and end the night at the weekly Summer Decks on the Beach party at Sporting Club. Saturday starts at Souk el Tayeb, then a visit to “charming cobblestone streets of Saifi Village”, lunch at the authentic and history-filled restaurant Al Falamanki and party till dawn at the Grand Factory and the legendary B018.
This is a quick recap of the first two days. I love how the author took her time to walk around the city, explore the hidden gems found in every street, visit museums and art galleries and even hit the gym. You can check out the rest of the days [here].
Despite ongoing political turmoil, Beirut remains a hub for Levantine history combined with stunning juxtapositions: green hills, a sea-cradled peninsula, labyrinthine streets, neglected architecture—from Arabesque to Venetian Gothic—high-rises, old mosques, churches and palaces, and much more. Add to this a sociocultural melting pot, teeming with makers, doers, and shakers. The result is a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East. [Vogue]