Fatima’s Grill, which opened in 2016, serves a fusion of Mediterranean and Mexican-American cuisine — think “crispy shawarma rolls” with meat, cheese and a topping of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The food pays tribute to Rida’s Lebanese-American background and the Latino community where he grew up in nearby Bell, California.
The menu items’ bright colors and flavor combinations have made Fatima’s Grill a hit on social media, with the restaurant boasting a total of 1.4 million followers between TikTok and Instagram. It has gained enough popularity to become a franchise in 2021: six new locations have opened in Southern California, New York, and Texas.
The original site generated total revenue of $1.1 million last year, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. Al Reda says it barely missed turning a profit, but it has surged in recent years — and is on track to bring in as much as $1.8 million in 2023.
He adds that the majority of Elreda’s income comes from royalties and fees now anyway. He declined to share specific numbers, citing contractual obligations — but indicated he’s not slowing down, with plans to enter Atlanta and Cleveland next year. He says he is looking forward to Canada in the future.
“Being able to come in and open doors somewhere out of state is just a dream come true,” Al Reda says.
While serving his sentence, Al Reda took cooking lessons and signed up to work in the prison kitchen. He says he loved being around food as a child, and would follow his mother into the kitchen “putting my hand in the bowl” as a child.
But while living in a court-mandated halfway house in 2011, he had trouble finding a job in a professional kitchen. One of his cousins, who owned a stall at a meat market in Bale, offered him a job cooking in a small restaurant – reminiscent of the cooking setup in Al-Rida Prison.
Eventually, the cousin moved out and struck a deal with Al-Rida: $80,000 for ownership of the kiosk. Once in charge, Al Reda experimented with mixing the cuisines of his youth, preparing Mediterranean foods and tacos on the small grill.
Ali Al Redha opened Fatima’s Grill in 2016 in Downey, California.
Source: CNBC Make it
The food grew, so Elreza sold the kiosk — for $125,000 — and poured the money into opening a proper restaurant, in what had previously been a Chinese takeout restaurant. Under the banner of Fatima Grill, innovative fare of satisfaction – like its signature.”LibamaxHot sauce, an abbreviation of two Lebanese and Mexican words, has spread on social media.
“People started driving from Las Vegas… Chino Hills, from San Fernando [Valley]. These are people who take 45 [minute] “One hour drive, it was amazing,” Al Reda says.
He adds that the interest is proof that food can “bring people together” across different cultures: “I think food is the best way, because it doesn’t have color lines. It’s right there, it tastes good. It better taste good.” “.
When wait times at Fatima’s Grill exceeded “two or three hours,” with people lined up around the building, Al Reda decided to grow the business again. This time, instead of finding a larger location, he partnered with Miami-based consulting firm Franchise Creator to guide him through the franchising process.
The expansion over the past two years has not come without hurdles. A location in Detroit recently closed due to “franchise violations,” but another will open in suburban Detroit in 2024, says Al-Rida’s sister, Susan, who works as director of franchise operations.
Al-Rida, standing outside the front doors of the original Fatima Grill.
Source: CNBC Make it
Overall, though, Al-Ridha considers the franchising a success, especially considering how much of his income comes from newer locations. Although the original Fatima’s Grill made a loss of about $150,000 last year, it has been profitable over its lifetime so far, he says.
He knew: Even amid business growth, Al Reza says he still tries to stick to his daily routine — including working the grill in Downey himself.
“I still manage myself, and my work hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he says, adding, “I love what I do. So, as long as I’m healthy and able to stand on my feet, I can do it.” “I would like to be practical as long as possible.”
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