Majid’s Kabab and its quiet success

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Sunday, February 16, 2014


IN 2001, an Iranian came to Davao to open a business after a car accident forced him to leave behind his blossoming career in show business. With a space accommodating only two tables and his grill, he risked what he had and faced the challenge of introducing Persian food to the people of Davao.

Thirteen years later and the space has expanded to accommodate more than just two tables, has its own kitchen, and a steady flow of customers coming in every day to taste Majid Jadali Sabet's Persian kababs. After 13 years since Majid started selling his kababs on Rizal Street, and while other establishments have come and gone over the years, Majid's Kabab has not only remained, but grown as well.

Recalling the store's humble beginnings, Majid admitted the huge risk he took, saying, "I didn't know anything about business."

"(Business) was slow, people didn't know about kabab," he said about the time he started to slowly introduce Persian food to the Davao crowd. He shared the time when he was starting out and the establishment beside his stall was a club, where he'd invite partygoers passing by to try out his kababs for free.

Sun.Star columnist Jojie Alcantara was one of the first to take notice of the place, and her article on the place is framed and hung on the wall of the establishment. A look at the photos on the articles of times past provides a glimpse of Majid's Kabab's quiet two-table beginnings.

Majid says that one of the things he owes his success to is the price of his food. "Everybody is saying my food is affordable," he explained.

He said that other Persian restaurants in other places in the country charge you separately for the beef, the bread and everything else. When Majid opened in 2001, he charged only P25 for the kabab, pita bread and tomato.

Despite the ever-increasing prices of goods over the years, Majid has prevented his prices from skyrocketing, with the beef kabab with all the works costing P40 nowadays.

Majid said that keeping his prices low is important, as he said, "it's hard to sell something special and have a high price."

Interestingly, Majid said he has been able to keep a low price over the years without ever changing the serving size. The only notable exclusion nowadays is the chili, which was featured prominently in stories about Majid's kababs around a decade ago.

Majid's Kabab previously operated in a space at Spazio at the third floor of Gaisano Mall, but eventually had to leave as the area was renovated. He was offered a better space in the mall, but Majid refused, saying that higher rent and fees would force him to increase his prices.

After 13 years, Majid's kababs are still made the same way. Now, however, he has people to help him out, thanks to the unforeseen success that the restaurant has had over the years.

Majid's daugther, Farrah Jadali Sabet works at the restaurant and shared that their food has no MSG or preservatives, because they want to make sure that everything the people eat is fresh.

"Minsan nauubusan ng food," Farrah shared, as they only bring enough to the shop good for a day, and make the next day's batch in the morning.

Other Persian food aside from kababs are also served, such as Biryani chicken. "My menu is not thick, but what I have is sellable," Majid said.

Majid added that there's a lot more food he is hoping to serve, but he is limited by the little space the restaurant resides in right now. He also shared that they are eyeing another branch in the city soon, but details must be ironed out first.

Just this year, popular tour guide, activist and performer Carlos Celdran visited Majid's Kabab. Majid's Kabab is also listed on Trip Advisor, a website with user-generated reviews about establishments.

From its beginning with just two tables, Majid's Kabab has grown into a symbol of a risk in business that has not only paid off, but endured as well.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 17, 2014.

Business

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