Trinidad and Tobago's first 'grocerant' opens at Piarco Plaza

The Food Hall directors, from left, Daniel Fakoory, Jonas Zakour, Omar Hadeed at the opening of the grocerant at Piarco Plaza, Piarco on Friday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
The Food Hall directors, from left, Daniel Fakoory, Jonas Zakour, Omar Hadeed at the opening of the grocerant at Piarco Plaza, Piarco on Friday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Grocery shopping is always a hassle given it makes you tired and hungry, but Omar Hadeed, Jonas Zakour and Daniel Fakoory has created the one-stop shop with their "grocerant"– The Food Hall at Piarco Plaza on Friday.

The concept lets shoppers stock their pantries and not have to worry about what meal to buy since there is a buffet filled with different dishes to choose from. The trio even added a chef's station for shoppers so they can see meals being cooked in front of them, learn new recipes and even sample them.

Zakour said this project was born three years ago and though it took a long time to materialise, he was glad it can finally open its doors to the public. Hadeed expressed the same sentiments and added, "It's so exciting to see the space filled for the first time with customers enjoying the experience that we've presented."

He explained that the three men, all aged 38, combined their different skill set to create this facility.

"We all come from different industries myself retail, Zakour distribution and Fakoory from the restaurant industry. So we combined our skill sets all into one to try and make this a place that you know invites customers and gives them the ultimate experience at a fantastic price points. For us. It's about the joy that we see our customers getting and the community we are serving. We will be employing 140 people."

The grocerant will be occupying 36,000 square feet of space, 20,000 for the retail sector and 16,000 for the kitchen, bakery, two prep rooms and warehouse space. In the next six months, the stakeholders will be launching a click and collect room that will be 7,000 square feet for people to collect their groceries or their next meal. Hadeed could not give the exact cost of the facility, but said it's double what they had budgeted for the project.

Though the grocery had only been opened for such a short time, Hadeed has already started wondering and thinking of when the next grocerant will be opened.

"We did go into this business wanting to scale it, take it nationwide and probably one day regionally. But ultimately we need to get this first one correct."

Hadeed assured supermarkets that their new grocerant is in no way meant to be seen as a competition.

"First of all, we don't look at ourselves in a supermarket. We didn't come into the space to compete against other supermarkets. We're full hybrid grocerant mixed between a grocery and a restaurants. We're preparing chef quality means a lot of our our staff on the back in come from the restaurant industry."

He then explained why the Piarco Plaza was their choice for the placement of the grocery. He said there are almost 100,000 people within a four or five mile radius. He added that the Piarco International Airport is in close proximity as well as several industrial parks filled with employees. Hadeed said there are too few options in the area and so set themselves apart by catering to customers for their next meal.

Zakour added that not only is the concept different but the partners took the time to ensure the aesthetics and quality of employees were different so shoppers can have a unique experience. Hadeed reassured customers that the prices are the same as other stores nationwide, this comes as he had seen social media comments saying otherwise.

The three men welcomed all shoppers and Fakoory took the opportunity to extend an invitation to upcoming and established chefs to apply to their demo programme. He said the demo programme gives chefs the chance to show people their new or most popular recipes so shoppers can learn and replicate it for themselves. Fakoory said it will also help upcoming chefs boost their names and gain more popularity.

Chefs Ariel Benny, left, and Immanuel Jones prepare a meal of pasta for customers, among them Elizabeth "Lady" Montano, who capture the moment on their phones during the opening of Food Hall, Piarco Plaza, Piarco on Friday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon was present and took the opportunity to congratulate the trio in this accomplishment. She added that she was happy to see so many local produce on the shelves.

"What we're looking at is the level of confidence to invest further in the manufacturing of locally produced goods and not only that, but in the inputs into the goods, so we have a ways to go. But today represents a fulfilment of a commitment to locally produced goods," she said.

Gopee-Scoon said the import bill that was last reported to be $5 million is decreasing given there are more locally sourced goods in supermarkets nationwide.

She then touched on the ban on the scrap iron industry and said that she had an extensive conversation with the Minister of National Security and Minister of Public Utilities at the Cabinet and decisions have been made. Without disclosing anymore information on that, she said there will be a press conference held in the near future to address all concerns.


"Trinidad and Tobago’s first ‘grocerant’ opens at Piarco Plaza"

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