Sara Kwaider, marketing manager of Shawarma King Bangsar, shares with The Yum List a little about how she got into the industry and some interesting stories from behind the scenes.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am currently the Marketing Manager at Shawarma King, taking care of its branding and business development. I got into the industry after I worked with my mentor in the F&B industry, Paul Dass Maria Dass, to help project manage the opening of his own outlet, The Locker & Loft in 2015. I got a taste of the industry and it was just a matter of time before we all decided to launch only the hottest Shawarma joint in town.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
One fine evening, the Chef and I were doing food R&D for a new recipe. Our excitement was uncontainable and we ended up having to use the fire extinguisher. You know what they say, “If you don’t play with fire, you’ll die of cold.” From that, our Mandi Claypot Rice recipe and cooking technique was refined and you can savour its smokiness, safely, at any time in Shawarma King.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
I really enjoy ideating and seeing Shawarma King portrayed through branding as a place that is committed to quality and service. Design thinking and coming up with creative ways to play with the brand and engage customers gives me an abundance of energy.
The worst part of my job is sitting for hours on my computer designing the content and materials. I have to wear glasses now and I make sure to put in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to be able to maintain a half decent posture!
What’s your favourite meal at Shawarma King?
I really love the Shawarma Platter. It’s a sharing plate which means the meal is definitely with someone special and fun. It offers both our succulent lamb and juicy chicken on a plate with veggies, sauce, and wrap and allows one to make their own bite-sized shawarmas to eat. You get to choose how much protein, veggies, and carbs you wish to consume that day. It’s definitely my favourite.
What’s one of the wildest/ craziest/ scariest/ funniest/ most outrageous (choose an adjective or pick your own) things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
How about all in one! Did I mention that time with the fire?! After all edibles were cleared and the shelves covered with garbage plastic bags, we used the extinguisher. The white powdery aftermath was the thing of comic books. I was amazed at how powerful industrial fans were to be able to suck most of it out. The whole event was no more than seven minutes! Exciting times!
The perfect day off would be…
Day off? What is that of which you speak?!
A day in the life of a general manager is…
Wake up early enough to get in a workout and breakfast before 10 am.
Begin replying to emails and networking in order to better build Shawarma King’s awareness and collaborations.
Check on suppliers and inventory.
Ensure that all necessary human resource management is done for the day.
Spend time greeting customers and creating a warmer ambience in the restaurant.
Any time not working is spent reading or learning about some key important marketing strategies or management techniques for restaurants to stay up to date and relevant.
Or, I just spend time listening to some music to calm the nerves midday.
That is followed by more researching, chit-chatting, managing small hiccups along the way and trying to maintain quality standards at all times.
At the end of it all, a small chat with loved ones, a good shower and a restful sleep.
What do you do for fun?
Listen to some good tunes. I love sharing music I like. Currently, these are my favourites (This Way by H.E.R.; Money by Zhu; Kanou by Fatoumata; and For Life by RunTown) Enjoy!
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Shawarma King?
Our garlic sauce is not mayonnaise. Since we are more driven towards nutrition, our garlic sauce is based in a special cornstarch mix which we leave to set overnight at room temperature before blending in garlic and magic fresh every day. I feel that’s important because now our guests can feast on the sauce, which retains its kick, but not its cholesterol-boosting qualities.
What’s your view on the food industry in Kuala Lumpur?
It’s quite exciting and competitive. Especially in Bangsar where new eateries offering exciting flavours and concepts are popping up and awing us all. It’s great to be the only Middle Eastern fusion concept in the neighbourhood because we can set an example of how delicious Arabian foods are and how warm our hospitality is as well. The industry as a whole is seeing great movement towards healthier and more conscientious consumption. It’s great to see how the younger generation is also bringing in a lot of art and culture into the industry from food to beverages and how identity can be expressed through the entire establishment.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
To do my part in ensuring Shawarma King sees a few more countries in the next couple of years.