RIYADH: Popular New York outlet Doughnut Plant has had a tough year, forced to temporarily close some stores to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, but the brand is looking overseas and has opened a branch in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is the first country to obtain a franchise license for the brand in the Middle East, thanks to the efforts of Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Almedbel.
“I had the idea to open up a gourmet doughnut shop in 2015, when I was doing my MBA in Boston,” Almedbel told Arab News. “I felt like there was an opportunity to expand the food market in Saudi Arabia. The only places where you could get doughnuts in the Kingdom were large-scale franchises, and we wanted to provide people with better, higher quality products.”
Almedbel began visiting doughnut shops in the US while taking a class in food entrepreneurship at school, looking for inspiration. The first Doughnut Plant branch outside the US was in Japan.
“A Japanese classmate mentioned that he was also the CEO of Doughnut Plant Tokyo, and that immediately piqued my interest. I asked him to help put me in touch with someone at Doughnut Plant, and he did,” Almedbel said.
After negotiating with the original owners of Doughnut Plant, both parties reached an agreement, and operations began at the Riyadh branch of Doughnut Plant last month.
“Unlike big food corporations with multiple franchises across the world, Doughnut Plant is a New York institution that has focused on originality and deliciousness since the beginning,” Almedbel told Arab News.
“It took us almost four years to set up because the mission is making doughnuts from scratch with the finest ingredients, to deliver a real, honest flavor. There are no preservatives, nothing artificial at all. It’s a lot of extra work, but we believe the results speak for themselves. Customers appreciate higher quality and are willing to pay for it,” he said.
Overall, Almedbel said that the response to Doughnut Plant has been “remarkable” and their products end up selling out almost every day.
He said this reveals not only the extensive changes that have taken place in the Saudi food market, but also the demand for gourmet doughnuts in the Kingdom.
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