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If you’re a working professional in Dubai, finding time to cook tasty, wholesome meals every day can be a challenge. It’s tempting to grab fast food or order in. But this can come at a cost — to your health as well as your wallet.
Husband and wife Kunal and Rania Lahori have tried to offer a solution in Pret To Go. Kunal says the inspiration for the outlet, which opened in DIFC in November, came from his university days in London and Los Angeles. “I would explore the nearby food offerings, available on just about every street corner,” he recalls.
The growing popularity of healthy organic concepts such as Organic Avenue, EAT, Vital Ingredient and Pret A Manger fascinated Kunal. “There wasn’t anything like it in Dubai and I saw a gap in the market.”
Kunal, who’s originally from Mumbai but has lived in Dubai for the past 31 years, says securing a location at The Gate Precinct in DIFC was difficult but his persistence paid off, and more Pret To Go outlets will be popping up around Dubai, starting with branches in the Jebel Ali and Dubai Airport Freezones.
“We plan to open in every busy commercial working area,” says Kunal. They also offer delivery and catering services and will be at local markets such as Ripe Market at Zabeel Park on Fridays.
Freshness comes first
Pret To Go has an emphasis on fresh ingredients and choice is a priority for the brand. “The focus is on working executives, giving them a range of products so regular customers will be able to visit daily and still have a wide choice,” says Kunal. “Since we opened in Marble Walk, DIFC, we have launched about seven new products.”
Quality ingredients are key; Loch Fyne salmon from Scotland is used in the signature smoked salmon sandwich, baguette, multi-seeded bagel and salmon-and-egg protein pot, which are all on the breakfast menu. Also available are organic porridge, muesli and oatmeal.
Fresh hormone-free chicken comes in wraps, salads and hot toasties. A favourite among customers is the Egyptian falafel with Arabian pickles, harissa, rocket leaves and coriander on a tortilla. Natural uncut coconuts from the Philippines sit in the cold cabinet, while fresh coconut water is also available.
“It’s not easy to walk around DIFC drinking from a whole coconut so every day we cut one open, scoop out a piece of the flesh and put it in a bottle,” says Kunal. “We infuse it with cinnamon bark and fresh orange rind.”
The hot cabinet holds meals such as soup, Thai chicken curry, spaghetti bolognaise, quinoa risotto and gluten-free pizza.
Search for inspiration
Over the past decade, Kunal has travelled the world sampling food in all types of restaurants, from the budget to the Michelin-starred.
“Many of the recipes are inspired by personal experience. The guacamole with tomato, coriander, jalapeño, lime and mint, for example, is my mother’s recipe.”
As the food is prepared fresh daily, any leftovers are distributed to blue-collar workers in DIFC.
In addition to the startup, Kunal also takes care of El Sur, a Spanish restaurant at The Westin Dubai, as well as a family business based in Jebel Ali Free Zone.
Source: Cheryl Robertson, Special to Property Weekly