Sam Nazarian’s food empire is expanding into Saudi Arabia through a joint venture, valued at $ 100 million, with global investment group WK Holding.
Through a deployment of about $ 200 million, C3, which operates restaurants, culinary centers, ghost kitchens and a mobile delivery service, plans to open 500 locations in the region over the next five years, Nazarian told The Real Deal.
“I think this [joint venture] it’s pretty important for all the obvious reasons, “Nazarian said.” But more importantly, bringing these brands to the region will be very exciting not only for our business, but hopefully we will be a catalyst for more brands to come to the region. “
The expansion was inspired by Nazarian’s time in the region, opening hotels in Doha, Qatar and Dubai, as well as the use of mobile delivery services by the population. Saudi Arabia’s online food ordering and delivery market was valued at $ 511 million in 2020, according to a report.
The move is also the latest in a series to rapidly grow Nazarian’s business. C3, which stands for Creating Culinary Communities, launched 165 locations in the US in its first year. Now, two years after its founding in 2019, it operates more than 250 digital brand locations in the US with plans to grow to more than 1,000.
As part of the expansion, C3 will introduce 40 international brands in Saudi Arabia, including Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Cicci Di Carne and El Pollo Verde.
Those brands were designed to coexist, allowing the same cooks and teams to easily prepare different foods, be it tacos or caviar.
“It’s really what sets us apart from people who are, in quotes, without quotes, in the ghost kitchen business, because we are actually a brand company and a technology company,” Nazarian said.
The first Saudi Arabian site expected to open in the first quarter of 2022 is Citizens Food Hall in Riyadh. The location will have full-service restaurants and a casual fast food lounge, along with a ghost kitchen that will fulfill delivery and pick-up requests.
The expansion comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy to develop public service sectors, including hotels.
C3 continues to have big plans for the future in other areas of the world. Although he was unable to share details, Nazarian said the company is currently considering a large acquisition in the UK.
Nazarian It is known for operating popular nightclubs and luxury hotels. But last November he sold what was left of him. 50 percent stake on SBE Entertainment’s hotel brands. Instead, it increased its ownership of SBE’s virtual kitchen and restaurant business.