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Baked to perfection

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SUNAINA RANA/ Emirates Business

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria was originally founded by Anthony Carron in the US. Over the years, 800 Degrees is striving to honour the heritage of old world Italian tradition with its pizzas baked with only the freshest and ripest
ingredients right in front of the
customers.
With an innovative menu of
completely customisable pizzas, from the base to the toppings and beyond, these tasty Italian wonders are created in an authentic almond wood oven and baked to perfection in just 90 seconds at 800-degrees for the
perfect taste.
Manish Jeswani and his team at Eaters LLC have launched the very first franchise of 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria to bring authentic Italian cuisine to the UAE. The franchise deal includes introducing twelve outlets in the span of only five years. Emirates Business in
conversation with Jeswani.

Please share about your journey so far. How long have you been in the Middle East?
I was born in Bahrain, and have always lived in the Middle East. I moved to the UAE with my family in 1990, therefore, been here for more than 25 years. I started my career working in the Landmark Group as a management trainee. For the first year, it was all about field work. Six days a week for several hours, were a regular phenomenon. I will never forget the experience that I had cleaning the floors, washing the dishes, waiting tables, bartending. Those days were one of the best days in terms of
experience.
Over the years, I came across different functions from marketing, business development, finance, human resources and worked on several different projects. I was able to travel the word and broaden my horizons and knowledge. When I thought I was ready to take the next step, I found 800 Degrees, and I decided to move on to something bigger.

What led to the collaboration with 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria? What kind of groundwork you had to do before you signed the deal?
I had a friend in the industry who referred me to Anthony, the co-founder of 800 Degrees. We got along very well and we started talking about terms and before we knew it, we had an agreement. We did analysis on competition in the United States as well as here. We had price comparisons and product comparison and we were able to understand that the concept and product were unique in this market and hence we pushed the green button

Being a multi-cultural city, is Dubai a safe bet? Do you plan to expand your business further in the
Emirates?
Dubai is always a safe bet. There are over 200 nationalities here and there is a culture to dine out. We have different types of guests in our restaurant and we are very happy that we get great feedback from different nationalities. We have three stores in Dubai and we are opening four more stores by the end of the year here in the UAE.

Have you faced any challenges in the UAE? How did you overcome them?
Being here in the market for a while, we do always have challenges but we are able to overcome them easily. If we were to take an example of our concept of 800 Degrees, initially we did a face a problem of having the guest to queue up on the line. We had to explain to them the method or ordering and how they have option to watch everything happen in front of them and that was a great experience. After the first time, we found everybody comfortable to order it the second time.
Although as the Middle East
market always demands a sit down service, we have now listened to our guests and introduced a table service instead of self service and hence we have addressed the problem.

What are the latest trends of the food industry?
The latest trend in the food industry is technology and customisation. This includes online ordering here in this region as it is growing at an enormous pace. Also, customisation is important as each individual has his own tastes and preferences. We are noticing the trends for all new and existing concepts and moving towards this direction.

What makes 800 degrees different from the other renowned
international pizza joints in the market?
At 800 Degrees, we do Neapolitan Pizza, which is pizza the way it was cooked in Naples 200 year ago.
800 Degrees gives the option to customise your own pizza with several different types of cheese, vegetables and proteins which could lead to 1000’s of different combinations.
The temperature of the oven is 800 Degrees Fahrenheit and therefore the cooking time of the pizza is
approximately 90 seconds. We operate a wood fired oven and use almond wood directly imported out of the US.

Do you think that the UAE market has accepted the unique concept of ‘creating your own pizza’?
The market has definitely accepted the concept of creating your own pizza. Our guests enjoy the experience of doing so, especially the kids. They love watching the whole process. As today’s consumers are more selective on their likes and dislikes as well as their eating habits, it helps us a lot to be recognised in the region as a fresh, healthy pizza joint.

What would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs in the
region?
My advice is always hardwork, hardwork, hardwork. I do not believe anything comes quick and nobody should expect that. What comes quick generally goes away faster. Always take the most difficult route first, you will find everything easy after. As entrepreneurs, you require a lot of persistence and you should never lose hope. Lastly and the most important is employees first, customers second. Always, treat your employees with care and respect.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
We see our company, Eaters, to be a professional and recognised F&B operator, with the spread of 800 Degrees and several other brands in the region and beyond.

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Chef Anthony Carron - Founder of 800 Degrees

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