Spotlight on a trader
29 March 2019
We met with Mazen Bou Antoun the Owner of Ruba, the new Lebanese restaurant in Teddington, to find out what makes him tick.
Why did you choose to pursue a career as a restaurateur?
For many reasons, but to name a few: Passion and love for good food, I enjoy making people happy and food and wine is one of the best things to make people happy. On a business level, I enjoy the buzz and the pressure and challenges that the business brings.
Please tell us a bit about your career that has led you to Ruba. How did you start and where have you worked?
My career started in the hotel industry in 1998 in Lebanon, then I moved to London in 2001 to continue my university studies and was employed by Noura Group London. This is where the passion and love for the restaurant business grew, and where also my experience grew extensively. From a cashier up to a GM and a very successful and enjoyable career, hardwork, long and tough hours and a great exposure led to the experience I have now in the business. I left Noura in 2013 to move back to Lebanon to consult then run a beautiful and large project Al Phenic, Lebanon. Catering for over 100 weddings per year and serving over 1,200 people per day, A large operation that also added a lot to my experience in the F&B business. Back to London in 2016, ready to start my own business, well equipped with all the knowledge, and surrounded by a great team of experienced friends and colleagues; I found a lovely location in beautiful Teddington and Ruba was created.
For those who have never tried Lebanese cuisine, can you describe the food in no more than 5 words?
Fresh, healthy, diverse, social with an abundance of ingredients
We have googled Ruba, and there are a number of meanings, but it is also a girls name. Is your restaurant named after a person?
It is a girl's name in Lebanon but actually it also means the green valleys overlooking beautiful views and scenery. My restaurant is named after these beautiful green valleys of Lebanon and the area I come from. Well represented also in the interior design of the place to complete the setting and the image we like our guests to experiencel.
We are so happy you have chosen Teddington as the home of Ruba. What was your reason for choosing this area of West London?
I was looking for the best location close to London where I can live, work and enjoy time with my family, and Teddington ranked high on the list. I managed to find a location and was able to acquire it.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated. What was the inspiration for Ruba’s interior design?
The interiors depict the mountains and scenery in Lebanon, (The village where I come from and where I grew up) the greenery, the grape vine trees, the old style houses and the generous hospitality where food, drinks and party are a big part of the culture. My architect and talented friend Elie from REM Beirut managed to translate the image I requested and to create this very authentic and modern setting.
What do you cook at home that you don’t cook at the restaurant?
I don’t really cook Lebanese food at home, my wife does. I love pasta so that's what I tend to cook.
What is your favourite kitchen utensil/tool?
Good Knives 😊
Other than your own restaurant, where do you like to go for a good meal?
Italian or Thai food.
What would you recommend from your menu for a ‘Ruba Newbie’?
I would say you won't go wrong with any item on Ruba’s Menu. However I am a fan of Sojok (Homemade spicy Sausages), and Hommos Muhammara (Hommos on a bed of mixed Mediterranean nuts blended with roasted peppers, chilli and olive oil)
Cheeky bonus question
What do you see in the future for Ruba?
Really cheeky question. I have lots of ideas but I like to build a strong foundation first. Currently we are concentrating on our takeaway and delivery business this month, and I want to start an outside catering business very soon. This is a part of the business that I enjoy a lot, catering for house parties, weddings and various other events. Bringing our healthy homestyle of cooking with its freshness and variety to every home. All prepared on the day, wherever the event is happening, with live cooking stations, barbecues, Chawarma Bar, inviting food stations, fruit carving and dessert stations. We are able to provide a complete set up of food, drinks, staff and equipment and able to create any themed event at your chosen location.