Interview with Riad Farhat
- 6 min read
We had the opportunity to interview our alumnus Riad Farhat (2007) and asked him about his Hotelschool The Hague experience and what he is up to nowadays. Is he still in contact with his old classmates? And does he still work in the hospitality industry? Keep reading to find out.
Can you describe your career path? What did you do after you graduated from Hotelschool The Hague?
Before I graduated, I already owned our first business. While I was writing my final project in 2007, I was negotiating the opening of the first venue for my first restaurant. I graduated in August 2007, and opened this venue (after refurbishment) in January 2008. From 2008 till 2019, we managed to open 15 venues, all with an own character and concept. I think the timing was right for us. Our company also grew due to a lack of up to date venues in the east of Amsterdam at the time, the economic crises, innovation, business insight and of course a bit of luck and goodwill. In 2019, we will be opening six new venues. They will all have their own concept and look & feel. Talking about this makes me a little nervous.
What obstacles did you overcome, what important lessons did you learn?
There are so many obstacles that I had to overcome, but I also believe that obstacles are inherent to everyone’s journey. I think that every person will have to overcome their own obstacles and it will all differ in a way. I learned that the biggest obstacle of all, can be yourself, and that everybody who denies that, hasn’t faced themselves yet. This is probably one of my most important lessons of all. Actually, I never had a burn-out. I try to do my best to keep the balance, so I won’t end up having one. How good is it all, when you can’t enjoy it? So if you feel that you are at a point that you can let go, then let go! This is the only way to grow in life and as a company. I do think that they should pay more attention to this subject during lectures, as burn-outs are like having a cold these days.
One of my best business investments so far, was building a good back office. My Hotelschool The Hague background was very valuable here, because of the broad knowledge I got during my time in school. Also being involved with La Confrérie helped me a lot. I was part of the introduction committee of La Confrérie, which thought me how to create a group out of people you don’t know.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
I enjoy all the extra free time I have. I see my family more often and I share more time with my friends. We are opening six more venues, so for the coming months it will be hard, but a famous Dutch proverb is: "after rain comes sunshine"...
What does a day in your life look like?
I mostly wake up at 07:00, followed by a nice breakfast with my family. My working day starts between 08:30 and 09:00. Every day is different, so it depends on what’s on the schedule. The only exception being Tuesday and Thursdays from 09:00 till 11:00, when it’s “Riad" time. I spend this time on working out and checking out from my daily activities.
During the rest of the week, my days vary a lot. Amongst others, I spend time on training my managers at the office, meetings at building sites of new venues and meeting with my managing partners, local governments and my design team. Furthermore, I do regular rounds through my venues, spend time with my team and travel a lot to get new inspiration. During the weekend, I try to spend time with family and friends as much as possible.
Can you tell us about your time at Hotelschool The Hague? What did you enjoy? What were your most memorable moments?
I noticed that after a while, you only remember and think about the good times. My dear friends are most valuable to me and I am still very close to them. I also met my fiancé at Hotelschool The Hague. Furthermore, I learned to stand on my own feet. During my time at Hotelschool The Hague, I got the opportunity to live in different cities around the world. This made me grow up faster than the average student, I guess. The programme I followed was perfect for me, a business man starting a company. It provided me with insight in many different parts of a company. The most memorable moments however, were just enjoying my life in Scheveningen and having fun with my friends. That gave me a great foundation for succeeding as an entrepreneur.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned during your time at Hotelschool The Hague? That is actually hard to say. Like I mentioned before, I think my entire Hotelschool The Hague experience was a valuable lesson. The courses I followed, the friends I made, the life I lived, the different cities I lived in, La Confrérie: it was all very valuable for me.
What courses did you enjoy most? Which lecturers did you find most inspiring? Why?
I liked Marketing Management as a course, as I always was fascinated by marketing. Furthermore, I perceived Robert Gallicano as a very inspiring lecturer. His course was about restaurant trends, something which is very important for my business. Actually, I think that trends are important in general.
Are you still in contact with a lot of other alumni?
Yes, I am actually in contact with many former students. Most of my best friends are alumni from Hotelschool The Hague. Many people that work in my business are also alumni, which actually says a lot about Hotelschool The Hague I realise now.
What are your plans for the future?
My biggest goal for the future is to be and stay healthy and to have fun with my dear family and friends. From a business perspective, I would love to open a hotel concept. I already have the first thoughts about this project in my head. Furthermore, we are planning to open new venues outside of Amsterdam in the near future.
What advice can you give future students about studying at Hotelschool The Hague?
Work hard, pay attention, be yourself, have confidence, don’t look down on anyone, make friends, don’t put effort in negativity, live life to the fullest and most of all: keep dreaming, because one day it will all come true. Make that promise to yourself and it will happen!