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We really want the customer to feel at home. And I think that makes… And good food, of course!

Catering: standing out

Marianne Donven, Founder of Chiche! Since 2017, then of Yabani

A recognisable style

Aesthetics also play an important part in Chiche! But mostly the vintage style. We really looked for that because we wanted to recreate the atmosphere that the customers knew in Hollerich, in this old building. Here, that’s why we compartmentalised. It was like an exhibition hall before we started. So, we tried to bring a bit of warmth to the place. Because I find that very important. Not only for customers, but for the people who work here, too. They need to feel at home. What’s really, really great, what you don’t know, is that lots of people brought us carpets or tables and sometimes come here and rediscover their furniture!

The first months

The first months were crazy! During the first months, people were waiting outside! It was really… We had over 2,000 customers each week.

Being Luxembourger: an advantage?

It’s not the language. For some customers, I believe it’s important for them to put a face to the restaurant. For example, when we opened in Esch, the first months, I was there every evening. And I saw after that the income quickly dropped. I think it’s important. That there’s a face… That I’m here to speak with customers. Lots of them ask about the concept or just want to chat… Or tell us that they’ve already been to Hollerich. So it’s important, I believe, for somebody to represent Chiche!, yes.

Little communication

It’s mainly due to lack of time. The first time I look at my phone, it’s often gone midnight, when I’m in bed! Yes, and I think that we should communicate more. Well, we’re totally booked at the weekend, so I don’t know, we don’t have room for many more customers. But it could be a good idea so that people don’t forget us. But it’s true that I don’t have much time to do it.

Being strict when needed

Quality. Always keep an eye on that! Sometimes… Well, I mean, I think it’s the same everywhere, you must never give up. Because one unhappy customer brings many more… Word-of-mouth works very well in Luxembourg. So, I’m pretty strict here. This is perhaps the point where we have to be the strictest.

Building customer loyalty

I think it’s mainly because… The concept of Lebanese cuisine is the concept of sharing. Eating our ‘a table full of food’ formula for example, what most groups order here, is sharing. It’s very friendly. That, I think, is part of the success. Otherwise, I also think of the friendly atmosphere. A lot, too – I think or I hope – comes down to having very friendly waiters because they know that they represent all migrants in Luxembourg. Several truly have a gift for communicating with clients. We really want the customer to feel at home. And I think that makes… And good food, of course! Ahaha! There you have it… But that’s our concept, yes.Leading by example

I want to show that it’s possible to work in a completely commercial and subsidy-free way and with these people who normally wouldn’t work.

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