Restauranting with Mr. Sammoon Mohamed | Lonumedhu

Restauranting with Mr. Sammoon Mohamed

Category: Interviews

by Iyath Adam

For our interview article this time, we have a chat with Mr. Sammoon Mohamed, owner of The Black Pearl Restaurant & Lounge, located above Schwack Cinema – 1st Floor, Aimirani, Haveeree Hingun, Male’.

Here, we discuss his experiences in the Maldivian food scene and the distinctive concept and workings behind his recently opened restaurant. 

Lonumedhu: First things first, tell us about yourself. How long have you been in the restaurant business?

Sammoon: I’ve actually been in the restaurant business for more than 15 years. I first started working in my family business – South Enterprises – working with my father, Mohamed Thaufeeq, and managing our catering business and bakery. After that, I joined Brothers Catering, which is also a family business, run by one of my brothers, Hussain Niyaz. There, I handled the entire catering function for the Parliament, IGMH canteen, weddings, kids’ parties, and corporate events.

I always aspired to start my own business. But I wanted it to be something different compared to what my family has been offering so far – ‘a family restaurant’. A Sri Lankan restaurant called ‘The Barnesbury’ was my inspiration for this. With the consultation of the restaurant’s owner, Shiyam Jainulabdeen, I wanted to open a restaurant here in the Maldives, which follows the same family dining concept and similar relaxing environment. So, we rented the floor above Schwack Cinema and the restaurant was developed around that. It’s been quite a journey from there to opening the restaurant, which is why it’s called The Black Pearl – because it indicates a treasure hunt to reach the point.

Lonumedhu: Can you tell us a bit more about what sets The Black Pearl Restaurant apart?

Sammoon: There’s actually no specific restaurant that caters for family gatherings here in Male’, in my opinion. There are a lot of places, which follows the café concept, but no real restaurant space for family/friends/work gatherings. So, we wanted to fill that gap with The Black Pearl.

Something very new that we’re doing here is, providing a platform for local musicians to perform and showcase their skills. Facilitating the development of local talent is something that is personally very important to me. And as there are limited platforms for musicians in Male’ where they can perform, we have created that space here at The Black Pearl. We offer buffet nights every Thursday where we provide music performances from different local artists. We would like to thank all our local artists who choose The Black Pearl.

We also have a partnership with Schwack Maldives in Male’ where moviegoers can order and get food from The Black Pearl; we have a special Schwack Cinema delivery menu. Other than that, we have a separate corporate meeting room here and we also provide catering for corporate events and kids’ parties – our prices are medium to high range, with affordable prices for all. We also offer free dining for kids under six years of age, which is an attempt to bring together families through The Black pearl.

Lonumedhu: What do you think Maldivians look for the most, when eating out? And how do you focus on catering to that?

Sammoon: The presentation of food, the taste, and the quality matter a lot to Maldivians. So, we pay a lot of attention to that. All the food at The Black Pearl is not only good to eat, but also good to look at and Instagram-friendly.

We think Maldivians prefer a fusion menu. If you have a specific cuisine, then you’re catering to just one group which limits your base. Almost all of our dishes are authentic to their cuisines, but we’ve changed some of them to suit Maldivian tastes with smoked tuna etc…

We’ve been receiving a lot of support from families and even couples who have dined here, which is why we’re able to keep going. To be honest, it’s very challenging to open a business in the Maafannu area, where people don’t gather or socialise a lot. But nevertheless, because of our quality of food and service, we have built an extensive customer flow. We also provide our customers the opportunity to review the food through Google review, which creates a connection between the customer and The Black Pearl.  

Lonumedhu: How do you maintain the quality and consistency, especially with such an extensive menu?

Sammoon: At The Black Pearl, we have different chefs for different cuisines in our menu. For our Maldivian menu, we have a Maldivian chef. And our chefs have worked at noteworthy institutions such as the Sheraton and other resorts. The menu itself was created by a Michelin-starred chef, Don Steve Thilina Madusanka, who has worked in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. He trained our chefs and worked here for about four months before handing over the reigns to our sous-chef, Rasanja Gaya Sri Attanayaka.

We actively work to maintain the quality of our dishes with weekly checks on different dishes. I invite my friends over to taste check as well just to ensure that our flavours are consistent. To maintain the quality of our raw products, our wholesale supply is also monitored very closely by experts in the field, and we ensure that the best fresh products are brought in a timely manner. And our products are ISO standard as well.

Lonumedhu: Do you think there is the potential for Maldivian food to be adapted to the fine dining model?

Sammoon: We do. And we already have authentic Maldives food here on our menu as well. Our corporate lunch menu features rihaakuru dhiya, garudhiya etc… And our ala carte menu features smoked tuna fried rice with Maldivian classics like mashuni, kulhimas, roshi on our breakfast menu. Although we have Lebanese and Turkish dishes, We think people prefer the classic Maldivian dishes for breakfast.

Lonumedhu: Before we end the interview, do you have any new exciting projects on the horizon?

Sammoon: My vision is to make The Black Pearl a well-known Maldivian brand, both nationally and internationally. As such, we have plans to expand further in the Maldives as well as go beyond the Maldivian shores too.

Lonumedhu: Thank you for your time, Sammoon. And good luck on your future endeavours!


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