We catch up with Omar El Sersy, CEO and co-owner of 6th October's very own Le Pacha 1901 West, to talk customer service, the restaurant business and continuing the original venue's legacy...
“People trust us,” Omar El Sersy says simply as he sips on a cappuccino in Carlos’ airy venue in Le Pacha 1901 West. The restaurateur, CEO, and owner of the renowned brand’s 6th October branch in Arkan, is referring to why Le Pacha 1901 has managed to thrive in a country where restaurants come and go as easily as the tides, and people have the attention span of a baby goldfish. In the midst of a myriad of food options sprawled across the entire city, it’s that deep seated trust that the brand has managed to foster over the years, and carry over to branches other than the original Zamalek one, that keeps people coming back to the signature spot. The brand has firmly established itself as a powerhouse in the region, as evidenced by its 23 years in the market, a feat few restaurants in Cairo can boast, earning its reputation one amazing night at a time.
The floating Zamalek staple set its sights on 6th of October a couple of years ago, and Omar El Sersy, along with his partner Tarek El Sersy, took the reins in expanding the illustrious brand, insisting on going through with the expansion despite the ongoing turmoil in the country. “Arkan was just empty land at the time. But I believed in it,” El Sersy says. Our now infamous revolution kicked off when both the mall and Le Pacha 1901 West were nearly complete. “We spoke and agreed that we’d continue regardless – fi sawra, mafeesh sawra,” El Sersy says with a laugh. And their perseverance paid off. “And we continued and now it’s been two years and we’re doing really well and growing!”
So far, the Le Pacha 1901 West has Carlos, Johnny’s and Piccolo Mondo under its belt, each of which has its own distinct vibe. “Carlos kind of fits everyone,” El Sersy explains, “Any time, any age, you’ll find yourself in Carlos. People come to eat, hang out, whatever.” The outdoor venue is the perfect laid back spot, modern and sleek but oozing comfort, complete with large couches, wooden beams, and cool water fixtures in the form of almost moat-like pools surrounding tables. “And there’s such a variety in terms of the food – Carlos’ menu is like a book!” El Sersy laughs. With everything from traditional Egyptian pigeon, to sushi, to salmon steak, it’s certainly an all-encompassing food journey. And of course – for every die-hard shisha lover in the city, which is approximately 97% of the population – are their hubbly bubblies, that make cool kids and ministers alike flock to the spot for casual evenings.
Piccolo Mondo picks up where Carlos leaves off, taking the cuisine and the ambiance up a notch – “It’s more fine dining, a place you’d bring your girlfriend or wife” – with classic dishes you’d expect like ravioli, and others like fish stuffed with salmon and spinach, that are positively drool-worthy. “The chef’s been with Le Pacha 1901 for over 16 years now.” El Sersy explains, “And at the outset, the chef in the Zamalek branch was Italian so he studied under him. Now, I’d probably say it’s one of the best Italian restaurants in the city – in my opinion!”
Johnny’s is probably the wild child of the trio, a nightspot that draws out the nocturnal creatures to head over for a drink, snacks, and possibly some off-key singing. “We have karaoke nights on Tuesdays. We actually get a lot of celebrities, some with nice voices, some not so much…” he laughs. “But it’s always a good time.”
The brand’s ability to veer between different vibes and encompass different types of places can be considered partially responsible for their success, but it isn’t just that. “People like to come to Le Pacha 1901 West for the diversity,” El Sersy explains, “But it’s also because of the quality of the food, the atmosphere, the service…” Despite the differences between the three restaurants, they all retain a common theme; client first, perfection pushed for at every chance. “At the end of the day, our job is service. And the client gets it. Any comment, whether it’s positive or negative, I’ll always take it into consideration. That is the number one source of feedback for me.”
Sersy’s know-how comes from being brought up in the business; hospitality runs in his blood. Though an architect by trade, he grew up learning the ropes of the industry. “My dad owned floating hotels in Luxor and Aswan, and I used to go every summer when I was younger and work in every single department. That’s where I got my passion with regards to the restaurant business. I’ve also taken some courses abroad but the majority of my learning came from hands-on experience.” His father’s influence is what he credits his current success to – “he taught me everything from morals to finances but in terms of work he taught me through experience, not spoon feeding.” It was also his father’s connection to the brand that encouraged El Sersy to get on board with it. A shareholder in the Zamalek branch since 1992, that’s how El Sersy got involved with the brand, worked with it for a while, and eventually was asked by Johnny Zahra, who he calls his role model, to be an official partner and open his own branch with his own partner Tarek El Sersy. But the two branches, he maintains, are intertwined until the end, “It’s more than a partnership – it’s like one entity”, El Sersy explains. “And that’s why we’ve managed to remain consistent in a market that fluctuates.”
And it’s the values he learnt at the original spot that he carries over to Le Pacha 1901 West today. “Being devoted to your work – that’s what will make you succeed.” The owner is involved in every aspect of the business, from dealing with clients, to helping out in the kitchen. “It’s not a one man show at all, but at the same time, my presence makes a big difference, whether it’s with the client or with the staff,” he explains of his hands-on approach. Everything is diligently scrutinised – we are even taken on a tour of the massive kitchens that are being scrubbed so vigorously it would make the most OCD human blush. “Nothing is guaranteed but your efforts,” El Sersy says simply. And it’s his devotion and diligence that both prompted Johnny Zahra to partner up with him – “I learnt from his and he’s the reason I’m responsible for this brand” – and that has allowed Le Pacha 1901 West to maintain the same degree of, well, everything, that clients have come to expect from the brand.
“Le Pacha 1901 has now been in the market for 23 years. 23 years of success, of consistency, of fame. The brand has become very strong. Everyone knows it. Everyone trusts it. Everyone goes to it,” El Sersy states. And that’s likely why the the 6th October Le Pacha 1901 West has not been buried in the graveyard of fallen franchises. Whether it’s kicking back with a shisha at Carlos, some after-work cocktails at Johnny’s, or some epic Italian cuisine at Piccolo Mondo, the team at Le Pacha 1901 West's consistency go the whole nine yards to ensure the experience is up to scratch. “You always, always have to put yourself in the client’s place,” El Sersy says, “That’s why we stay successful.”
You can check out their Facebook page here or follow them on Instagram @lepachawest.