Owning the lunch experience.. Kitchenette

21 November 2015

Owning the lunch experience..

By Basem A. Aggad, Kitchenette managing partner


Since I took the decision to leave my career in the telecommunication industry back in 2010 and pursue my own business aspirations; I’ve been jumping hoops of what I would otherwise  describe as “accidental involvement” in other people dreams.. Nothing more illustrative of this than the story of Kitchenette, I’ll hold that thought for now; as things began a year earlier before I got involved.

In the summer of 2009, Dalia Salah; the founder of Kitchenette Jordan decided to translate her passion for food into a summer project during the seasonal Jara market, she rented a booth; cooked her favorite homemade dishes from her house and served it to the market’s patrons, to her surprise; it was an instant hit.

Dalia Salah at Jara market, Ibrahim Manna was giving a hand, circa 2009

As Jara market concluded by Autumn, Dalia’s clients kept in touch, asking for the food they tried and loved during the summer, at that point Dalia created an email list for her clients; sending daily suggestions for the meals she would prepare each day, take her orders; cook them and deliver the food.

Few months later Kitchenette started taking shape as a viable food delivery business; serving an alternative to junk food homemade lunch meals delivered to the office with a rotating daily menu, pure  and simple.

The “Basem, listen bro; i’ve got this brilliant idea.. we’ll be rich” phone call came late 2009 from Dalia’s brother in law; Jafar Arabiyat, a life long friend; “My sister in law she prepares homemade meals and sell them by email to her small network of clients, we can scale the business as partners” he explained!

My own expectations was to be a silent partner (i can hear my ex-partners laughing at this), few months later; we established the company; rented and built a central kitchen from scratch; registered the brand, established a proper online presence through a custom-built website and early entry to the world of social media networks.

Kitchenette’s first central kitchen, circa 2011

Things were difficult at start for the most part; beside the heated arguments and differing expectations from one another; “scaling the business” was neither straightforward nor profitable as it sounded on the elaborate spreadsheet models we deluded ourselves with, the riches everyone was hungry for and seemed tangible growing from an already profitable home business never materialized and we ended up with a clunky company crippled with overheads and operational issues.

That's where it got interesting and my “accidental involvement” started, as Kitchenette continued to grow in numbers and acquiring (and churning) new clients; it was still losing money and things didn’t look bright on the long run; being the principal investor, I decided to step in to salvage the business from its predicament.

As an engineer with a typical sloppy business sense, I took the long and hard bottom-up approach to reforming the business with total disregard to the financial bottom line and that was the motivation of my intervention in the first place! Starting from the Kitchen and cooking process, documenting recipes and meal selection and schedules, through the order-taking process and the way Kitchenette managed its communication and sales channels and food delivery, the latter being an area of personal expertise, but that’s a perhaps a story for another time.

This year long process was crowned by the end of 2012 when Kitchenette was nominated for and awarded the prestigious Sheikh Moh’d Bin Rashid Young Business Leaders award in the “best small business in Jordan” category by merit of mature internal procedures, business prospects and growth.

Kitchenette at the Award ceremony, Circa Dubai 2012.

Things only came together in 2013, as Kitchenette completed a full nutritional audit of its recipes with the clinical-dietician Razan Shwayhat, enhancing the nutritional value of the meals it offered and was one of the first food establishments offering its clients with meal nutritional information on its website.

The other major development that year was the focus on developing Kitchenette into an e-commerce centric business by relaunching the website with Shopgo and revising its strategy and internal procedures to grow in that direction.

Yet there was something still missing in the midst of all the values Kitchenette held, the initiatives it undertook, the mature policies and procedures it had in place to manage its clients’ experience, the transparency and honesty it conducted itself with.. It always fell short in representing itself and the things it stood for.

2014, was the year when Kitchenette finally synced its maturity as a business with how it was represented as a brand! With the help of a brilliant local branding firm Overhaul, and after a rigorous three months project; a complete overhaul -pun certainly intended- of Kitchenette’s brand strategy, image and even product design was completed, with a fresh, clean, crisp and outstanding look and feel that truly captured everything that made Kitchenette what it is and the promises it make to its clients.

Kitchenette’s new packaging, environmentally conscious, high quality practical and suited for office environment, 2015

Today, Kitchenette embraces the motto “Lunch made easy”, under which a whole new focus is outlined around owning ‘convenience’ in the lunch meal market, especially in office situation. Building upon the mature procedures that Kitchenette developed over the years to deliver a consistent, pleasant and convenient experience.

Convenience is not just a term that Kitchenette touts; it’s the way it gets things done and the details it takes for, trickling down from the moment you decide that you’re hungry up until the food is served at your desk and everything in between; the meal choices it lines up every day, the variety, packaging decisions, how your order is taken and delivered, and even the way your information is managed, everything revolves around how to make the experience convenient.

At the end, this story wouldn’t have come about without God’s grace and the hard work and dedication of dozens of past and present team members, and last but not least the initial dream of Dalia Salah who left the company but continues to inspire and support us until today.

You can visit Kitchenette’s website on kitchenette.jo and follow on:


Footnote: Basem Aggad, a telecom engineer by education, founder of National Express Delivery Company L.L.C. (NEDCO), a local courier & delivery service company, co-founder and managing partner at Kitchenette Jordan & Kalamazoo Grill and the content curator and co-founder of Amman Tech Tuesdays (AmmanTT), you can follow him on Twitter and email him on basem [at] aggad [dot] net