When Adham Tayfour emigrated from Syria to Winnipeg seven years ago, opening a restaurant was a natural next step.
With his extensive experience in the service industry and his passion for cooking, it only made sense. Plus, he noticed that there was a gap in the market.
“We believe in good food. We thought that Winnipeg could use a real authentic Middle Eastern place,” says Adham.
And he was right. Today, Les Saj is one of the city’s go-to Middle Eastern restaurants, serving up fresh and delicious food with generous portions and great pricing. The restaurant has also come to be known for its unique way of baking their namesake saj flatbread right in the restaurant.
“When you see all the happy customers, both returning customers and new faces … and when we see the great reviews and feedback in social media, we feel proud,” says Adham. “We feel that we are doing something right and that’s what keeps us going every day.”
However, the road to their grand opening was a rocky one.
“No matter how much we thought we understood the challenges, there were more than you can ever expect,” says Adham.
From construction delays, to permit issues, to a lack of capital, all of the bumps along the way almost got the best of Adham.
“You get to the point that you are not sure if you want to do this anymore,” says Adham.
However, by hanging on to his dream, finding alternatives and remembering that things will only get better, he was able to push through the hard times. Additionally, Futurpreneur Canada was a huge source of support for Adam and Les Saj.
“I don’t think Les Saj would even exist without Futurpreneur Canada,” says Adham. Through Futurpreneur’s Start-Up Program, Adam was able to access much-needed financing and online resources like the Business Plan Writer.
“It’s a great tool that we still use to this day,” says Adham about the Business Plan Writer.
He adds: “We couldn’t be more grateful to Futurpreneur. They believed in us and our idea when others didn’t.”
For those looking to start their own business, Adam offers the following wise words of advice:
“Be ready to have a long journey. It will be very difficult at the beginning and it will take longer than you think to see the result that you are hoping for. Study your market very carefully and have all the sources that you need, especially access to funds, before you even start the paperwork.”