Sawsan Abublan is CEO and Co-Founder of Shawarma Press®, the first authentic shawarma franchise in the United States.
Her fascinating story involves a career pivot of working 17 years as a pharmacist to pursuing her dream as a successful restaurateur.
With a diverse metroplex like Dallas-Fort Worth as their hometown for over 25 years, Sawsan and her husband -Supply Chain expert- Dr. Ehap Sabri (Ph.D), recognized a niche gap in the QSR market and became determined to bring authentic and fusion shawarma flavors to the masses.
After researching the region’s demographics, perfecting family recipes, and consulting with top chefs in the Middle East, Sawsan opened her first Shawarma Press location in 2017 in Irving, Texas. With fresh high quality menu items, the concept caught on, and the restaurant kept its doors open during the pandemic with omni channel technology like their own online ordering website and App. Shawarma Press emerged stronger after the pandemic and grew from 1 to 8 stores in 2 years within Texas and Georgia with more in the pipeline.
Sawsan's dedication and hard work landed her brand several awards in 2022 and 2023 including Fast Casual's Top 100 Movers and Shakers, Franchise Media Update's Most Innovative Supply Chain, and a remarkable Silver Stevie presented by the American Business Awards for achievements in diversity and inclusion.
Sawsan will continue to lead the growth of Shawarma Press by strategically adding at least 50 more stores in the next 5 years.
Sawsan’s business story is inspiring...
Because it proves it's never too late to follow your dream.
She attended college with the intention of having a long career as a pharmacist. Even though her first career was rewarding, she thought about what it would be like to go from comforting patients to offering customers comfort food with her favorite Mediterranean recipes.
Because Sawsan dared to switch courses and follow her dream, Shawarma Press is poised to become one of the nation's leading fast casual franchises. When asked if she plans to expand internationally, she says
"The sky's the limit. I am so humbled by everything we have achieved so far, and we will continue with meaningful growth in select cities and states, and one day, perhaps, internationally.”
Ehap is a big supporter for Shawarma Press core values:
Social Responsibility, Integrity, Trustworthiness and Excellence.
As a marathon runner, he is also a strong advocate of going the extra mile in customer service and high-quality ingredients.
Ehap also serves as board president for a non-profit public charter school. His favorite quote is “going the extra mile in what we do will inspire others to do the same and promote a culture of excellence.”
As an executive, university business professor, and author, Dr. Ehap Sabri, Ph.D is integral to the growth and development of Shawarma Press. With more than 30 years of experience, he is sought after for his expertise in strategy development, supply chain, management, and innovative solutions for executives and managers. He has provided consulting services and held advisory roles for many retail and manufacturing companies, providing subject matter expertise and approaches for success in end-to-end transformation, digital technology enablement, change management, education, organizational structure, and performance measurement.
Ehap’s industry experience and success as an ex-KPMG managing partner have positioned him to spearhead the Shawarma Press expansion into Walmart stores and to implement best practice processes across all brand levels. His vision for the brand is rapid expansion, noting, “Our plan for the expansion is to open over 50 Shawarma Press locations inside during the next five years to provide healthy and authentic Mediterranean cuisine to the masses"
Ehap’s impressive credentials include a doctorate in Industrial Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He is also a Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM) by APICS and has achieved Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt in process improvement.
In addition, Ehap Sabri is an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas for the MBA Program and has published the following books about supply chain management:
Technology Optimization and Change Management for Successful Digital Supply Chains by IGI Publisher, 2019
Lean & Agile Value Chain Management: A Guide to the Next Level of Improvement by J. ROSS PUBLISHING 2010
Purchase Order Management Best Practices: Process, Technology, and Change Management,” J. ROSS PUBLISHING, 2006
Based on the restaurant’s success and Sawsan's business acumen, she recently announced rapid franchise expansion with 10 new locations ready to launch throughout Texas and Georgia including locations inside Walmart.
“We take pride in being the first establishment to bring an Authentic shawarma franchise to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex,” Sawsan said. “It’s exciting that the enthusiasm and support from our customers is allowing us to expand throughout Texas and other states as well.”
One of the pillars of the company’s mission is to give back to the communities Shawarma Press serves. Core values include Social Responsibility, Integrity, Trustworthiness, and Excellence. Sawsan explains “Embraced by everyone on our team, these values are also extended to our customers and community. Our business engages with local charities to ease families’ hunger and give back to the community, something that started locally, but one day will expand globally.”
Since November of 2019, Tom Parks has served as VP of Franchise Development for Shawarma Press Franchising, LLC.
From August 2015 to present, Tom also serves as Chief Development Officer and co-founder of Premier Franchise Solutions, a full-service franchise consulting, sales, marketing, and advertising agency for emerging franchisors.
Tom has been involved in the awarding process of hundreds of franchises both domestically and internationally for brands including Two Men and a Truck International, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, and Best Life Brands.
Tom is responsible for all aspects of domestic and international franchise development for Shawarma Press Franchising, LLC.
Since December of 2019 William (Bill) Bunting has served as the Director of Operations and Franchisee Support. Bill’s duties include supporting franchisees with operations, onboarding, training, franchisor relations, system & processes, and advises the franchisor on vendor relations and executive management.
Bill has personally developed and opened over 200 franchise locations, has been a part of over 150 business transactions, and has personally developed over 50 franchise brands to market.
Bill concurrently holds the position of Vice President of Operations with Avendelle Assisted Living, LLC in Euless, Texas, since August of 2017. Prior to these positions he was the Director of Training & Operations for Soft Pretzel Franchise Systems, Inc. from September of 2008 through 2014. Bill currently offices in New Jersey.
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