Vendor Of A Piping Hot Idea

By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Stephanie Khouri says the food at “Gourmet Stop” is quick food, not junk food! The Gourmet Stop features eight automat machines with eight compartments each — dispensing up to 64 gourmet meals in minutes. CHA-CHING!


Like so many other wonderful things in Stephanie Khouri’s life, the idea of a machine dispensing hot, cold and fresh food also came from her mother.

“I got this idea from my mother. I grew up hearing about a fresh food-dispensing machine, which she had seen many years ago in Amsterdam. I promised her that one day, I would bring it to the UAE and that’s exactly what happened,” said Stephanie, founder of Nomadic Capital.

In April, Stephanie launched Gourmet Stop, a new business that caters to people who want fresh and delicious meals on the go. Located in Dubai Media City, Gourmet Stop features the Automat machine. which dispenses meals in minutes, making it the perfect choice for a quick lunch.

The first location has eight machines with eight compartments each — up to 64 meals are available at any given time. Additionally, all of Gourmet Stop’s containers and cutlery are made of 100 per cent biodegradable material.

In 2005, Stephanie opened Urban Steel, which was the first official body piercing shop in Dubai. The company was also the first in the country to have a full range of equipment and stationary for left-handed people.

After the success of Urban Steel, Stephanie and Ziad Ghosn founded Nomadic Capital, a company specialized in importing the latest inventions from around the world to the UAE as well as developing new apps.

Fresh food
“We introduced the brand Gourmet Stop under our holding company Nomadic Capital Limited. Gourmet Stop serves fresh food [a lot of which has locally sourced ingredients] daily from noon to 4pm.”

Another thing that inspired Gourmet Stop was the fact that F&B (food and beverage) market prices for “home-cooked” food was more expensive than junk food, which is not beneficial for the general health of society, especially given the increasing rate of obesity in the UAE.

Stephanie believes that her idea could help change the UAE by encouraging an improved lifestyle by giving people access to wholesome food at an acceptable price, minus the waiting time.

“We want to give people a choice — it seems like if you want food quickly, it has to be junk. Gourmet Stop is quick food, not junk food and that is something people haven’t really seen before,” she said. Stephanie said Gourmet Stop brings choice, affordability and convenience to the F&B industry.

“Our mission is to challenge the status quo and the Automat can do this — it’s the future of restaurants and suits the technological era perfectly.”

Stephanie believes the UAE start-up environment is maturing, so is the level of innovation and drive to introduce new products. “Yes, there are challenges but that’s applicable anywhere in the world and as we grow, we address those challenges and adapt to the ever-changing environment,” she said.

“I’d say the strongest points of the UAE’s start-up eco system are the drive of the population to explore opportunities, take the plunge and give it their all,” she said.

Stephanie also mentioned that she hasn’t yet decided to explore new areas or sectors to expand her business. “How could we? There’s so much we want to accomplish. Our goal is to make people’s lives better and we’ll keep a watch on our community to see how we can best do that and that’s how we’ll grow,” she said.

The young entrepreneur said she attributes her success to her parents for teaching her the value of hard work, her sisters for being her biggest fans and the inspirational people that she met from all walks of life.

“Proper time management was something I really focused on and adopted and that has made all the difference,” she said.

“Also, knowing when and how to draw the line between friendship and business is crucial. Many entrepreneurs work with friends or family because generally these are the people you have common interests with and you’re willing to support each other through the challenges of setting up a business. However, it’s easy for the lines between your different relationships to get blurred and that does not contribute to success. Each person must have clear responsibilities and you must hold each other accountable,” she said.

Stephanie said entrepreneurs must know that being passionate and patient always result in success. “Be passionate, be patient, be willing to recognise where your talents stop and someone else’s begin and work together so you both grow,” she advised young start-ups.

“Entrepreneurship is teamwork, a partnership — whether there are two of us working closely together or 20 of us working across boundaries and time zones,” she concluded.

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