Along that famous strip of sidewalk on the left leading up to the gate of “Diplo (Sidi Abdel Rahman) on the North Coast, there now proudly stands a little bakery. Although it has only been in business for a few weeks, vacationers are already raving about it. I set out to investigate the source of the recent croissant craze.
The Bakery Shop (TBS) makes, serves and distributes freshly baked bread and delicacies to the Diplomats, Hacienda and Ghazala resorts – answering the calls of vacationers on that part of the North Coast who have long been deprived of fresh bread.
The Bakery Shop (TBS) provides the freshest of white and whole-wheat bread rolls, German bread, baguettes, Kaiser bread (burger buns), croissants of all varieties, Danishes, muffins and doughnuts. It does so with a 24-hour kitchen, a team of chefs recruited from the finest hotels and the tastiest of European ingredients.
It is the brainchild of three young men, none of whom had the slightest clue about baking six months ago.
TBS is named after the three partners: Tarek El Nazer, Basel Mashhour and Sameh El-Sadat. El-Nazer works in health insurance, Mashhour in real estate, and El-Sadat in financial services. They are all childhood friends, all 25 years old and this their first business venture.
“We just realized that people needed fresh bread in Sahel (the North Coast), so we decided to put our heads together and do something about it, said El-Sadat. “We didn’t want to get a franchise, although it would have been easier, we wanted to make everything from scratch, do it our way.
The three young men kept their eyes on the goal and worked overtime for six months, spending their own money, conducting research, contacting experts and even traveling abroad to bring high quality fresh bread to Sahel.
Their friends and relatives were tasked with spreading the word to their acquaintances. The word-of-mouth marketing strategy seems to have worked, said El-Sadat, and it gave the project the needed momentum.
El-Sadat went to Paris in February to attend a culinary exhibition, gathering recipes, learning new techniques and trends in the industry and “shopping for ideas.
Meanwhile, the hunt for chefs back in Cairo yielded two renowned hotel industry-veterans: Yasser and Ashour, who were then given permission to recruit a team of the best. “They form a great team, said El-Sadat, “and they have shown so much enthusiasm for the project.
Combining El-Sadat’s newly acquired knowledge with the chefs’ expertise, the team then began selecting the equipment and ingredients to import, and, he said, quantity was sacrificed for the sake of quality.
There followed a long and arduous process of trial and experimentation, testing and modifying recipes. Unfortunately for him, his parents and their furniture, much of the experimenting took place in Mashhour’s country house throughout the month of June.
It has all paid off though, with the bread and pastries practically flying off the shelves, and the magnitude of the demand prompting the hire of a delivery van. They will soon start circulating their products on the beach in frisca boxes.
Business is going so well in fact that the trio is planning to open in Cairo after Ramadan. The venue is likely to be in Kattameya or Heliopolis, where most of them live. “This will be the real challenge, says El-Sadat, looking confident nonetheless, “because we will be facing much tougher competition than we do in Sahel.
Succeeding in Cairo is essential for financial viability, he said. He hopes that summertime customers will not forget their favorite little bakery once they are back in the hustle and bustle of the big city.
But the summer is long, and a pleasant aroma of freshly baked bread is wafting above the entrance of Diplo, greeting inhabitants as they arrive. It looks like it will take a lot of swimming to make up for all those Philly cheese and olive croissants. No matter, the sea is beautiful and the pastries are delicious.