Distinctive flavors from On the Wood

A venture that was founded in 2010 by the joint efforts of two Lebanese food lovers with a family based business and an esteemed Emirati partner with a vision. The goal was simple to satisfy the taste of all lovers of Mediterranean oven baked pastry. The distinctive flavors from On the Wood comes fresh out the oven to the consumer. Recognized by Time Out Magazine “On The Wood” has won two distinguished awards: “Best Mankoushe Kneffe” and “Best Dish”. In this interview with Bassel Saker – Managing Partner at On The Wood, he shares their story of passion and dedication over the years.

1.How did you enter the franchise business?

ON THE WOOD journey began by 2008 by the joint efforts of two Lebanese food lovers and an esteemed Emirati partner. The approach was new to the market of Lebanese food a taste that satisfies all lovers of Mediterranean oven baked pastry. While ON THE WOOD- Muweilah under our direct management in Sharjah, we have received many franchise requests from investors whom are originally our loyal customers. As a result, we started franchising in 2012 in hopes of providing customers with authentic Lebanese and Italian Cuisine that the Saker brothers perfected for years.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

After several studies, experiments and product tests, the Saker Brothers found ‘Stone Wood’ technology. An American oven that utilizes a monolithic cast ceramic cooking surface that prevents the wastage of heat, and in-turn creates a consistent, unbroken heat transfer, resulting in a superior quality product. The benefits of Stone Wood technology was profound. The Saker Brothers were able with a single oven setting prepare six distinct types of dough, as well as, prepare both Lebanese and Italian food. Furthermore, they were recognized by the founders of ‘Stone Wood’ as the first company to utilize their oven for such a fusion of Lebanese and Italian cuisine.

3.What inspired the brand name?

“Stone Wood” is the Technology used in ON THE WOOD and in arabic we say cooking “A’l Hatab”. Combined together, the technique and arabic term, the name ON THE WOOD was created.

4.What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

We knew we had to establish our logo in a way that maintains authenticity and represent the brand. The idea of the logo had to reflect that. Hence, the word A’l Hatab was drawn in an oriental style.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

In our endless pursuit of finesse and perfection, we give strong attention and devotion to all steps of production and all kinds of ingredients selected, keeping the goodness at its highest to ensure superiority and perfection.

To us, quality and perfection are the name of the game and we truly believe that it is the golden link between success and fame, thus our center of attraction was ever evolving around quality control and fine selection of prime components.

Day to day, supervision is an endless task that goes around the clock without any rest, so that our clients get the best of the best, all of the way.. all the time.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

Our top priority is to expend in the MENA region. A franchise operation consists of many franchisees, so we pay attention to individual drive and sense of ownership.

The essential qualities are:

  • Ability to fund, develop and operate multi-unit our brand within a defined region.
  • A great location.
  • Experience in restaurants or food & beverage industries is not a must.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

Depends on certain crucial factors influence. Country or city, actual space of location, initial investment, etc, for example. Therefore, give your condition we would need to understand enough about it but from experience it should take a franchisee from 6 months to 1,5 years.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

The major challenge was how to adapt the “Stone Wood” Technology with the alternative technique in the Gulf Region and to have the right authentic taste of Lebanese pastries.

In result, with the technique and our experience, we were able to be know for the best Cheese Mankoushe in town.

8.1.What is your best achievement?

ON THE WOOD greatest achievement is to have 13 branches in UAE and 4 in Oman during the brand’s 13 years journey.

And another great achievement is to be able to sell more than a Million shawarma sandwich in 2020, during the pandemic.

9. How does your business day start?

I start my day by drinking a cup of coffee and having a Mankoushe. After that I head to the office for the usual work day routine, which includes creation of new recipes.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

My best moments are when we opened 3 franchise branches in Oman from 2017 to 2019 and an additional branch in 2021. Many people came together and invested so much time and effort into making that happen. There’s nothing better—or more humbling—than have customers outside UAE.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

We’re always working toward getting ON THE WOOD into the Middle East and global markets. And we’re always developing lots of new and exciting items, including healthy options. We’re aiming to open at least 50 branches globally.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

My tip to restaurants owners is to “Always serve what you expect to be served by others” and “To cook with love and passion”.

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