QL Exclusive: An interview with the co-founders of Go Home Café
Qatar Living speaks to the co-founders of Go Home Café, Khaled AlRayes and Asmaa Albahar, to know more about how the café was launched during COVID-19.
Go Home Café at Msheirb Downtown Doha, is founded by Khaled and Asmaa, who had first met at a food festival in 2019.
This cozy place is inspired to attract Qatar’s citizens and residents who come from diverse backgrounds. The aim is for them to come to the café and feel home. The café offers a variety of food and cuisines.
Khaled started his first business at home, which was a bakery business that saw him doing the baking himself.
“I literally used to wake up in the morning to start my day in the kitchen at 6 am then leave the kitchen at 6 pm, to complete the orders by myself and to follow up with the orders and check the schedule for the coming few days,” Khaled recalled.
“It was my first experience as my own business, but it was so successful. I did many collaborations with many cafes in Qatar,” he added.
Then Khaled started his new business, Back to Roots, which is a popup. He participated in Tourba, with Flat white, then they did a popup in Russia, Moscow and finally at the food festival in 2019, where he met Asmaa.
However, Khaled started to think of some new idea as he wanted to focus on something away from the popup concept. He wanted to think of something bigger as he wanted to start his own business and to have a specific location for it in Qatar. This is when he got the idea of starting Go Home Café.
The idea of naming the place came from many inspirational things that affected Khaled and Asma.
However, the main reason was COVID-19, as the café was newly opened and aimed to encourage people to grab their food and enjoy it at their homes.
“It is called Go Home for two reasons and for two different meanings: the first one, is because once you enter Go Home, you will feel that it feels like home with the decoration, the simplicity, and even the traditional floor, and the second reason, is because you can grab the food and enjoy it when you go home,” Khaled said.
“We cook the food the same way your mom cooks it at home, and it takes you back to the original flavor,” Asmaa described.
As any other business-owners, Asmaa and Khaled faced some challenges.
“I had an experience to be a chef with many famous restaurants in Qatar, but this time I am having my own place to make my food, so the biggest challenge for me was to convince people to have my food at my cafe,” Asmaa said.
“The food industry in Qatar is very challenging. At present, there are limitations on the number of customers, the target as well, and even tourism is at a standstill, so we do not know what to expect,” Khaled said.
However, the biggest challenge was the opening during COVID-19. In in the initial days, Asmaa and Khaled couldn’t find any staff to join.
“It was the hardest time on us to start in the middle of the coronavirus situation, and I remember the time when we could not find professional staff of Chefs to join us. When we found some people, it was hard to train them at the beginning to prepare the food in the perfect way that I wanted,” Asmaa said.
The number one criterion of building a successful customer base at Go Home is to get their food in a perfect way with the quality that the customer expects.
“If you are having the perfect food and your location is on the moon, people will come to you and they will come back, because it is about the food not the location,” Khaled said.
Go Home opened its doors in November 2020, right in the middle of the hard times of COVID-19, but Khaled and Asmaa were able to manage to make this place a success from day one.
“Go Home was supposed to open at the beginning of 2020, but what happened in the world delayed a lot of our shipments from outside. We had to push it all the way to the end of the year in November 2020,” Khaled said.
The idea of the food came directly from Asmaa as she used to brainstorm her ideas with Khaled at the beginning of establishing Go Home.
“We have more than 65 items in our menu, and all of them were created after many days of thinking and brainstorming,” Khaled said.
“I can say that Asmaa is the core business, as she is the mind behind the menu and the whole food in the place,” Khaled added.
The teamwork is the reason behind the success of Go Home, and the good vibes between the two co-founders reflect on the place itself.
“I remember me, and Khaled first worked together in the food festival in Russia in 2019, and this was the point where I knew that we could build something together,” Asmaa said.
“I remember at the beginning we did not even have a cleaner, and even the packaging we used to do it one by one, by ourselves. We used to clean tables or clean the kitchen and also serve the people,” Asmaa added.
Asmaa and Khaled are very optimistic and are now preparing to open new branches of Go Home in different places in Doha.
They believe that entrepreneurs should focus on the team they choose when they build any business because it is the main reason behind any success.
To know more about Go Home Café, you can check them on Instagram @gohome.qa
Also to know more about Asmaa Albahar, you can check her on her Instagram: @chef_asmaa and you can check Khaled AlRayes on Instagram @Khaled_choice
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