Visionary and award-winning entrepreneur, Walid Hajj has defined his unique imprint in the food and beverages business creating innovative concepts that have disrupted the industry and established his credentials as a pioneer in F&B concepts that integrate advanced technology with exceptional service.
Walid launched Lavoya, a premium restaurants operator, in 2021. Established with the purpose of significantly transforming dining experiences, Lavoya introduces new and experiential casual dining concepts to reshape the F&B industry in the region.
In one year only, Lavoya launches 3 hugely popular franchise brands in the region:
Joe & The Juice: a global healthy eating lifestyle brand of juice bars and coffee shops around the world from London, New York, and Paris, with an astounding record-setting Dubai launch as the first stores rank #1 ad #2 among 300 worldwide locations.
Dave’s Hot Chicken: latest LA-born street food sensation backed by celebrities like Drake and Samuel Jackson, also breaking global sales record in its first week of operation in Dubai.
Barbar: an iconic 45-year-old Lebanese street food brand, with Dubai (Hessa Street) and Riyadh (Tahlia Street) outlets ranking Top 2 in the system.
Prior to establishing Lavoya, Walid demonstrated his entrepreneurial acumen with the founding of Cravia, one of the region’s leading food and hospitality groups that brought world class franchises to the Middle East, including Zaatar W Zeit, Five Guys, Cinnabon, and Seattle’s Best Coffee.
From selecting and negotiating with brands, to creating and achieving operational excellence, Walid has been the driving force behind amazing growth story of Cravia. Since its inception in 2001 and under his strategic direction, Cravia has grown from strength to strength. Today, the company’s portfolio includes more than 100 franchised restaurants and has presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar and employs over 3,000 employees. In 2016, Walid stepped down from his role after Fajr capital, a private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in Cravia. He continues to be known as the founder of the group and has become a highly sought-after speaker in industry conferences and summits around the world.
In his early career, Walid was a Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble for two years and Vice President of operations for his family business, United Group, in Saudi Arabia. Walid holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in the US and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia. He is married and has three children.