How Lazeez Mediterranean Grill in Charlotte Adapted to Customer Demand
- Meredith Bethune
- 4 Min Read
North Carolina food lovers in search of something unique are flocking to Lazeez Mediterranean Grill in Charlotte. Owner Faisal Syed oversees the Middle Eastern restaurant with his brother Faraz. The menu, inspired by the potent flavors of Lebanon, is bursting with healthy ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and plenty of fresh vegetables and herbs.
The duo got their start in the industry about six years ago running an Indian restaurant. But they launched an entirely new menu in May 2017 after noticing a demand for a different type of cuisine. The overhaul couldn’t have come at a better time. Vegetable-centric cuisine, typical of Lebanon, is already hot nationwide. And Middle Eastern culinary influences are now primed to go mainstream in 2018, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
The customers at Lazeez Mediterranean Grill are loving the friendly service, helpful delivery drivers, and generous portions. It’s no surprise that “lazeez” means “tasty” in Arabic with flavorful menu choices like chicken kabab and shawarma, along with dips like baba ganoush, hummus, and labneh.
We spoke with Faisal Syed about how he organized such a successful menu relaunch.
It sounds like your area of expertise is Indian cuisine. How did you create a brand new menu and launch it so successfully?
We had a great team who had supported us from scratch. Some are from the Mediterranean and Lebanon, as well as other places in the region. We finally changed over in May 2017, and built a great menu with a team that included some excellent chefs.
What inspired you to make such a significant change?
Our customers were just looking for something new. We changed our concept because there was a high demand for healthy Mediterranean food. We wanted to give that to our customers. We spoke to many different people and asked them what they’d prefer. We realized there were already many Indian restaurants here. Charlotte residents were already used to that kind of food.
Why do you think Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food works so well for catering?
Lazeez Mediterranean Grill is more or less like a Lebanese restaurant. People here, in this part of the country or in this part of the city, seem to mostly order from restaurants that serve American food. They usually assume people enjoy that more. But I’ve noticed our catering customers are so happy with our cuisine. It has delicious ingredients like olive oil and many healthy herbs. These healthy ingredients are key at our restaurant. And, honestly, it’s the focus of our company. We offer generous portions of food, so our customers are happy. They usually say, in a very good way, “we have never seen such a quantity from any other restaurant.”
Do you place a strong emphasis on catering at Lazeez Mediterranean Grill? How do you reach out to new customers?
Yes, we do. The best way to find new customers is through word-of-mouth. ezCater has been an excellent platform for us. If a company uses the platform to order food for like 10 people or 20 people, we’ve noticed that they then order from us again. That makes us feel so proud that we made them so happy that they want more food from us. So catering is an outstanding opportunity for any restaurant. If you do catering, you’re just helping your business by a significant number and every restaurant owner should do that.
What would be your advice for other caterers looking to undergo a massive change like this?
It was challenging for us. But as I said, our focus was to give something new and healthy to our customers. Initially, we offered buffets just for the customers to experience our food for a much lower price. We had the buffet for one month on a daily basis during the dinner time. The critical point is that people know that it’s healthy food. And I think that’s what we have targeted.
Do you have a favorite dish on this new Mediterranean menu?
My favorite item is our restaurant’s Saturday special, which is Adana Baiti. It’s a delicious Turkish dish of ground lamb flavored with spices and herbs and comes with sour cream. It is a bit spicy because I come from a different Indian background, and I feel it’s something which matches my taste. So it is also loved by other like various people because it looks amazing. And, most importantly, it just tastes really, really good.
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