x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Wild Peeta shawarma restaurants look to expand with Twitter

The owners of a shawarma restaurant in Dubai that features a giant Twitter wall are looking to expand to more locations.

DUBAI // More Wild Peeta shawarma restaurants are set to open, provided agreement can be reached between the chain's founders and prospective partners who would provide the necessary funding.

The Emirati brothers Mohamed and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi launched the first outlet at Dubai Healthcare City in 2009, then moved to Deira City Centre. Later, they opened a second branch at the World Trade Centre.

"The business needs investment to grow, to take it to the next level, and we're in talks right now with a few companies in the region," Mohamed Al Awadhi said. "It's not finalised yet, but in the next 12 months you'll see a lot of outlets, at least in the UAE, and we have plans to go global with our new partners."

The brothers pioneered the use of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote the restaurants, and decorated their premises with pop art.

"We had to build the brand," he said. "I think we were a bit of a novelty at the beginning, this social media brand with these two Emiratis, the shawarmas, we were doing all these things. But I think today it's become a lot more tangible."

One option the brothers have ruled out is selling the business.

"We can't sell out, that's part of us being a social business," Mohamed said. "We have a commitment to the people that follow us and we cannot bring them in and make them feel like this brand is a piece of them and then us pull out."

The brothers are continuing to develop their use of social media. The World Trade Centre branch is known for its unique Twitter wall, where live tweets are projected in giant size so diners and staff can read them.

"I don't think there's another restaurant in the world that does a Twitter wall. It started because we wanted ways to show people we're a social media brand.

"The tweets are not just about Wild Peeta, they're about community activities or other Twitter accounts that are important to the community, so sitting having your shawarma, you get updated about what's happening around town."

The Twitter wall will be a feature of all future Wild Peeta outlets. Sometimes, the tweets praise the food and service - but some other comments are not so positive.

"If somebody comes in and says: 'I had the worst shawarma, I'm never ever coming back to Wild Peeta', and they tweet it, our staff acts on it," he said. "They contact that person on social media and say, 'We're so sorry, how can we make it better?' "

csimpson@thenational.ae