My episode today is with Canadian CEO Mohamada Fakih and his story of going from 0, to $100 Million in sales.
In 2006, Dr. Mohamad Fakih, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, purchased a nearly bankrupt restaurant and transformed it into, what is now known as the fastest growing Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain in North America – Paramount Fine Foods. Mohamad’s determination to change perceptions surrounding Middle Eastern food has driven Paramount’s brand success across Canada and Internationally as well as advancing the global Middle Eastern food trend.
A community leader, Dr. Fakih regularly participates in fundraisers and community events, supporting multiple causes and organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, Islamic Relief worldwide, Sick Kids Hospital, the Make a Wish Foundation in Toronto and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Canada. Both Paramount and Mohamad have donated generously to these charities and other non-profit organizations. Across his restaurants Mohamad offers discounts to all Emergency Service Workers in uniform to show appreciation for their service in our communities.
In the past three years after the Canadian government decided to welcome 25,000 Syrian Refugees, Dr. Fakih made headlines in Canadian News when he travelled to Lebanon to visit the Islamic Relief Camps for Syrian Refugees to gain a deeper understanding of current relief efforts. Hoping to lead by example, Mohamad partnered with Ryerson University, Toronto for the Lifeline Syrian Challenge – allowing Paramount Fine Foods to fund employment support counsel to help recruit new Syrian Canadians during their job search.
Mohamad opened the doors of Paramount restaurants to the skills and drive many refugees bring to Canada by providing up to 150 jobs for the newcomers in his restaurants in year 2017.
Dr. Fakih’s determination to uphold values of giving back to communities where Paramount restaurants are located has resulted in a workplace culture of giving to others and to supporting one another. He has made philanthropy and giving back a key part of Paramount’s culture and identity, setting it apart from other restaurants and businesses globally.
Dr. Fakih has been featured in several leading media outlets across Canada including CBC and CP 24 Television, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Newstalk 1010, National Post and many more.
In February 2017, Dr. Fakih was acknowledged before the Canadian Parliament by the Prime Minister of Canada – Justin Trudeau – as an Exemplary Canadian Citizen and Businessman who successfully operated a Middle Eastern restaurant chain, and was applauded for his charitable work in January 2017 when he covered the funeral costs of six victims of a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. In his business affairs and community work, Dr. Fakih is viewed as a Canadian of Lebanese birth who transcends and brings together people of all origins in a global workplace advancing our communities and helping each other to contribute to our societies. The Prime Minister of Canada –Justin Trudeau- as well as the Premier of Ontario, Canada and several City Mayors have all visited Paramount Restaurants in Ontario.
Along with being named a finalist in the 2014 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Dr. Fakih made the cover of Canadian Immigrant Magazine for both his business success and inspiring life story. In addition, The Globe and Mail titled Dr. Fakih one of Toronto’s “16 to watch in 2016”. The list, released in January included other notable Canadians such as John Tory, Mayor of Toronto and Alessia Cara( International Artist). Toronto Life Magazine named Dr. Fakih as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in 2017, including him in an affluent list of successful politicians, international businessmen, media and tech titans who are changing the world as we know it.
In 2018 Dr. Fakih, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist and CEO and President of Paramount Fine Foods received an honorary Doctor of Law Degree, from Ryerson University in Toronto. Dr. Fakih most recently received the prestigious 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment from IRCC- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
In May 2018, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Canada launched a new partnership with Dr. Fakih, the President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods and the Founder of Fakih Foundation, to support the Agency’s work for refugees globally and in Canada.
UNHCR recognized Dr. Fakih’s vision and commitment to building, a Canada that is strengthened by diversity and a global leader on refugee issues, based on his contribution in promoting the economic and social integration of refugees into our communities, he is the voice and the face of UNHCR Canada.
Dr. Fakih is committed to revamping the traditional image of the Middle Eastern Restaurant industry by changing the way the cuisine is viewed and enjoyed. He believes that his hands-on approach to all aspects of his business ensures the
Paramount model will sustain its growth and continue to provide jobs for Canadians including new immigrants and globally as Paramount expands.
Paramount currently employs over 2000 people across its 71 restaurants and gourmet butcher shops globally with 42 in Canada and 12 International locations, plus food factories and its Toronto international corporate head office. The Paramount brand will have 65 locations by end of 2018 with new locations opening in Lebanon, the UK, New York state, US, Dubai and Pakistan. Paramount continues to be proud to bring Halal Foods to the world after being the first halal restaurant to open at Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Dr. Fakih is a strategic and successful business leader who employs his skills, expertise and experience into expanding Paramount’s brand to pioneer the halal market globally. He believes this can only be achieved by sharing his vision, knowledge and expertise with his management teams and franchisees in every country where he opens locations. Dr. Fakih aims to continue the exponential growth of Paramount globally while
continuing to promote excellent standards of food quality and service in Middle Eastern restaurants and to share the cuisine with diverse audiences.
Moreover, in 2019, after a long battle of legal actions against hate crime, hate speech and Islamophobia, the Ontario Supreme Court awarded Dr. Fakih $2.5 million dollars in damages for defamation against Kevin J. Johnston. Dr. Fakih continues to support communities who face hate crime and hate speech. He donated all the collected money to an anti-hate fund. This legal battle does not only hold precedence, however it is the largest defamation award in Canada.
On this episode, from 0 To $100 Million I speak with Mohamad about his entrepreneurial journey and building a massively successful business.