Day in the life: Co-founder of Dubai cafes works hard on recipe for success
Davron Hamidov is the co-founder of Arrows and Sparrows and Friends Avenue – two cafes in Dubai. After graduating with a master’s degree in economics and business administration from the University of Vaasa in Finland, he moved to the UAE and set up Friends Avenue in March last year, alongside his business partners and friends Zee Alikhonov and Fazliddin Kosimov. The 25-year-old Uzbek wanted to work on something he was passionate about – good food and coffee. His second venture, Arrows and Sparrows, founded by Mr Hamidov and Mr Alikhonov alone, opened last month.
As soon as I wake up I shower and head straight out of the door. I don’t have coffee or breakfast until I reach work.
I arrive at Arrows and Sparrows. Our barista hands me a coffee and a glass of warm water. I meet my business partner, Zee [Alikhonov], and we discuss the previous day, such as what went wrong with the service and what went well. We then talk about the plan for the day and anything relating to our weekly specials.
I order breakfast. Zee and I like to monitor the quality of our food this way. We eat and see if there’s anything that can be improved, as we need to ensure the quality is consistent. If you don’t try your own food you won’t be able to tell if there’s anything wrong. We also monitor our reviews online and rectify any complaints immediately. Customers are always right and we see them as our bosses.
Often supplier issues crop up. The biggest problem we have is suppliers not telling us they don’t have something in stock until they deliver that morning. So then either Zee, or I, run across town to find the items from another supplier or from Waitrose because we have to always ensure everything is available on the menu. Once I had to run around for five hours looking for figs.
I head to Friends Avenue for the lunch shift. I follow the same regime, going through the plan for the day and discussing anything that came up the previous day. I also take photos of the food and coffee or any daily specials for our social media accounts. When we develop items for our menus we have different criteria we want to fulfil, and one of them is to ensure the dish looks good on social media. But we also have other far more important criteria – whether it would be a good enough portion to fill someone up, and whether it’s a balanced meal.
At lunch, I walk around the tables talking to people to ensure everything is fine and see if they’re enjoying their food. If my waiters are busy I’ll clean the tables and help them out as everyone is equal on our team. From day one we’ve worked inside the cafe ourselves, waiting tables and talking to people. We treat whoever comes through our doors as a friend.
After lunch, I go back to Arrows and Sparrows and meet Zee again. I find working with a friend has more good points than bad because you already know the person well. We have our own strengths and we know each other’s capabilities. This is very beneficial, as we know who’s good at what and we’re able to undertake and delegate tasks appropriately.
From now until 8pm I take some personal time. I don’t take days off unless I’m leaving the country, so these are the hours I do my personal chores or the things I enjoy. I love going to the cinema with my friends twice a week – anything but drama or horror. I also visit different cafes to try their food; it’s nice to be a customer. My favourites are Raw Coffee in Al Quoz, as it has great coffee and a nice atmosphere, and Parker’s in Dubai Mall.
I head back to one of the outlets to make sure the day ended well and check if there’s anything to do before the following day’s service. One thing I think we do a bit differently is changing our menus every six months. We ask ourselves “How would we enjoy our food?” and the dishes develop themselves from there. For inspiration, I look at the Melbourne food industry for the presentation, the combination of foods and the quirkiness.
I arrive home and four times a week I’ll go to the gym in my building. I also swim twice a week. Other evenings I’ll spend doing food research on Pinterest or watching food-related documentaries. I recently enjoyed Gordon’s Great Escape. I head to bed at midnight.
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Updated: November 26, 2016 04:00 AM