Sipping a glass of Chivas Regal Extra, we get close and personal with the power forces behind some of Cairo's most upscale eateries to discuss business, impact, and sleepless nights.
A distinctive breed of entrepreneurs is rising on the corporate horizon. We are not talking about the hip young zealot 20-year-olds shaking up the entire startup world, regionally and globally. Extremely popular, successful, and impact-driven, the young entrepreneur generation is a cast of 30-year-old generous, entrepreneurial thinkers who are not only sweeping over traditional corporate structures, but also shaping up the basis of new CEO paradigms in the business world.
We’re sitting over a glass of Chivas Regal Extra at the bar of U Bistro, a restaurant that has seen the movers and shakers of the nightlife scene stroll in and out since its launch, just a couple of months ago. This hotspot, hidden right in the swankiest artery of the exclusive Zamalek island, was recently launched by Rawy Rizk, Nader El Dairy, and Mohamed and Ibrahim Yehia, the restless power team that’s been transforming the entire nightlife scene and revamping some of the city’s most high-end spots, such as Zamalek's upscale eatery and bar U Bistro. So how did these four power forces meet?
“It was like 25 years ago. We were really close; Ibrahim was like the big brother to us. We used to go out together and we were sure that one day we would open something together,” says Rizk with nonchalant charm, breaking the ice. Popular, outspoken, and contagiously mischievous, the entrepreneur has mastered the F&B business and made a name for himself as the man behind some of the city's most renowned high-end bars. I cut to the chase and throw the first question.
Let’s speak about women. What’s chivalry to you?
Rizk: It’s putting the same effort on work as you put on your family. But it’s not easy to be a gentleman. Maybe you can be a gentleman once a week (laughs).
Only? Is it that difficult?
Rizk: No, but it takes effort (smiles).
El Dairy: It’s not difficult; you have to be yourself. If you are born a gentleman, you will be a gentleman. It all comes down to how you treat your family, and how they treat you back…
So you think you cannot become a gentleman; either you are born a gentleman or not?
Yehia: No, it’s something you learn over years and years.
Rizk: But it’s in your genes. You have to be there when you are needed, and stand for the others.
If you had to give your 10-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Yehia: To take it easy and give yourself time. But I would do it all over again the same way; I don’t have any regrets.
Rizk: Focus on sports; don’t go hard into business, but try to maintain your life and choose good friends. Focus on your target and do it.
El Dairy: Don’t think too much, enjoy your time.
What’s the one thought that doesn’t let you sleep at night?
Rizk: Well, I barely sleep (laughs). When you work in this business, you have to prove yourself every day, so that’s always something I’m thinking.
El Diary: It’s hard to satisfy everyone. I sure sleep more than Rizk (laughs), but it is hard.
Rizk: How to improve your business in order to have people coming every night. When you work in this business, people think that they can stop by after a hard day at work and you are going to be there for them. If you are not here all the time, it starts decreasing. You need to be there at every minute, in every detail.
A man’s worth is not determined by his wealth, but…
Rizk: His word. If I give a word to someone, I have to stick to it.
Yehia: His relationships.
El Dairy: What he achieved.
And what do you feel is your biggest achievement?
El Dairy: I haven’t reached it yet. I feel like I have lots of achievements and I am happy with what I’ve done, but still there are a lot of things I want to do.
Rizk: I am a self-made person; that’s my biggest achievement. I didn’t rely on my father or my family. I did everything on my own – bought my own apartment, got married, opened a restaurant. All alone.
Yehia: Being able to manage my business while at the same time maintaining relationships and giving back. And perhaps the biggest is having more achievements to accomplish.
What would you choose: money, power, or impact?
(All three, in an almost synchronised choir): Impact. Big time.
Rizk: Money comes and goes. You can make money today, lose money tomorrow. But you have fortunes and live alone. I prefer not to have a penny but be surrounded by people who love me and make a difference.
Yehia: In the end, we are not just about food. We care about people.
El Dairy: We have some programs to strengthen loyalty with our team. We care about them as much as they care about us. We take them on trips – we are planning to take them to the beach. We support them.
Rizk: And we have bonds with them. If an employee is getting married, we have to be there. This is a big boat, and it’s like we are a big family on this boat.
Photography by @Mo4Network #Mo4Productions
Photographer: Karim El Sabawy