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#AlwaysOpenForYou: Meet Sweetheart Kitchen

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Where can you find us?
UAE: Al Barsha, Al Quoz, Al Warqa, Marina and Al Raffa (opening soon)
Kuwait: Al Ardiya, Hawally and Kuwait City (opening soon)

In the hot seat:
Daniel Sangareau
COO Kuwait and Corporate Executive Chef, Sweetheart Kitchen

Tell us a little bit more about your venue.
Sweetheart Kitchen (bySWHK) is a Private Label Multi-Brand Virtual Kitchen. This means it owns, develops and operates its own brands (ex. Affordabowls, Bravo Avocado, The Poke Project, Wingo, High Steaks, Billionaire Burger Boys and Slider Trifecta to name a few). We have an exclusive presence online through food aggregator platforms, such as Talabat, Zomato and Carriage, and our brands are delivery-only concepts.

Sweetheart Kitchen was designed to eliminate the various bottlenecks (capacity constraints) in the food delivery Supply Chain by integrating tech, cuisines and process into a system designed to handle the rigors of food delivery. 

bySWHK focused on the reduction of process lead time and variation in an effort to, not only produce high quality cuisine with great variety, but give the consumer (and delivery apps) the ability to reduce estimated delivery times and optimise logistics (reduce costs). 

Market-level Supply Chain optimisation and profitability on a “per order” basis (taking into account the costs of logistics) should be the ultimate goal of any virtual kitchen. To achieve this, bySWHK has a LEAN (Six Sigma) mindset and focus on process efficiency, not only demand aggregation (revenue).

What are you offering customers amid this global pandemic?
We have most recently partnered with Hala Taxi and the RTA to provide meals to their drivers. This initiative comes as a natural significant decrease in demand for public transport continues, with restrictions remaining in place to reduce unnecessary movement around the city. As a Dubai-based company, it’s our responsibility to support the local community in times of need.

We’re also providing our food at heavily discounted prices, up to 50% on some platforms, to ensure people can enjoy our food during this time of giving back.

What safety and hygiene measures are you taking?
In addition to implementing HACCP Food Safety, we’re also 5-Star Hygiene Rated by our Delivery Partners, and have taken additional measures during COVID-19 for contactless food pick-up by our delivery aggregator and logistics partners. We’re continuing to take strict measures to ensure the health and safety of our customers and our staff:

  • All staff have been trained on personal hygiene including proper hand-washing once they visit our premises before and after work.
  • Our staff were provided with PPE (face masks as well as disposable gloves).
  • Hand sanitisers were distributed to all our staff and delivery partners to use throughout the day.
  • All our kitchens were deep cleaned and sanitised in line with instructions provided by relevant ministries and health authorities.
  • Our supervisors are conducting daily health screening of our staff; any staff member who is feeling unwell is being taken off duty immediately and sent to relevant healthcare centres.

However, we continue to stay vigilant and monitor international and local health authorities for the latest developments.

While our systems are unique and proprietary (therefore, not something we shall elaborate upon in much greater detail), we will say that our systems required the careful integration of cuisine, process and tech with a LEAN manufacturing mindset. 

Now, most virtual kitchens are moving towards Private Label branding (our invention) in an effort to replicate our system, which results in optimised procurement, production and assembly processes (if you own the food brands and raw material selection, you can optimise them to work well together from all manufacturing perspectives).

Our technology allows us to remotely manage globally distributed food operations ensuring that our ingredients are fresh, our lead times and production times efficient, and our procurement practices are optimised.

What support are you looking for from industry partners/suppliers?
We’re all facing this global pandemic together, and accordingly all have our challenges across the value chain, from our suppliers to our delivery partners, who have all been supportive and understanding during these difficult times.

More importantly, the markets we operate in have been extremely supportive. The Dubai Government has taken all the right steps to ensure that we’re all kept safe, and we can continue to provide food for those who are also practicing social distancing to protect the community.

What I would ask from everyone is empathy. We need to continue to support one another, and understand that the circumstances we face are short-term. We will get through this, and if we help each other, work together to ease each other’s pains, we will become stronger once this is over. For example, we have suppliers who have agreed to source and store additional stock of raw goods to pre-empt any shortages in stocks due to supply chain issues.

What challenges are you currently facing given the circumstances?
I believe the main challenge we face is curfew times – we can only work during specific hours of the day in certain markets which means we can’t service the community 2- hours (which is what we do in Dubai).

While we’re trying to ensure contactless deliveries, we have noticed that many people are preferring to cook at home, as there are some who still fear the last-mile delivery process. I believe it will only be a matter of time until people begin to feel comfortable again.

What kind of support are you offering your staff?
We’re continuing to pay full salaries to all our staff, and have provided our Kitchen staff with a small monetary gesture to support them financially and assist them in purchasing the necessary goods for their families during quarantine.

Office staff are all working remotely, and we conduct daily Zoom calls to remain in sync with one another, and ensure all functions are working seamlessly (Operations, Marketing, Finance, etc.) Communication is very important, not only to keep the business running, but to keep morale high!

What are your plans once things get back to normal, or at least partially so?
Our plan post-crisis and during the crisis is to continue to provide consistent, great quality food at affordable prices to the communities that we’re present in. We’re launching new kitchens during the crisis, to service new neighbourhoods with our brands, and this will continue at full force post-crisis when we’re allowed to enter new markets such as Saudi Arabia. 

Anything else you would like to add?
With a niche focus on improving delivery, bySWHK implements state-of-the-art technology to manage our food deliveries scientifically. bySWHK uses a Six-Sigma Lean Manufacturing approach to all its processes, and uses data to better understand customers on the basis of their consumption behaviours and cuisine preferences. This means we’re always learning, and adapting with the market, allowing us to expand to new territories, and also develop new food categories and brands.

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