Sawsan Abublan is CEO and Co-Founder of one of the most rapidly expanding fast casual restaurants in the United States, Shawarma Press.
Her fascinating story involves a career pivot of working 17 years as a pharmacist to pursuing her dream as a successful restaurateur. While managing a team of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Dallas for more than a decade, she noticed the Mediterranean food she and her family craved was almost non-existent, even though other ethnic restaurants in the area were plentiful. With Texas well known for its diverse cuisines, Sawsan and her husband, Ehap Sabri, recognized the opportunity and were determined to bring authentic, healthy, Mediterranean fare and fusion dishes 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. Although the flavor profile was new to the area, locals embraced traditional offerings such as chicken and beef shawarma wraps, homemade hummus, tabbouleh, and falafel, and were eager to try "fusion" dishes such as Tex-Mex Press™ and the spicy Tandoori Press™. With menu items made fresh daily in-house, the concept caught on, and the restaurant kept its doors open during the pandemic.
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, Florida, and Oklahoma. More importantly, she successfully secured an unprecedented partnership with Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, and recently announced that more than seven Shawarma Press restaurants will be operating in Walmart stores in 2022.
“We take pride in being the first establishment to bring shawarma 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.”
Sawsan’s 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.”
As an executive, university business professor, and author, Dr. Ehap Sabri is integral to the growth and development of Shawarma Press. With more than 20 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 100 Shawarma Press locations inside Walmart stores 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
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.”
Since November of 2019, Tom Parks has served as Director 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.
Ron has 32 years of experience as an entrepreneurial senior executive. He has managed all aspects of several mergers and acquisitions both domestic and international (Mexico), primarily with small and medium sized businesses. This has encompassed working closely with investment bankers and private equity groups, performing due diligence, and internal and external audits.
As a longtime resident of North Texas, Ron has established a network of professional contacts in accounting, insurance brokerage, banking, and legal endeavors. "I wish my entire portfolio of clients had CFOs as competent, passionate and trustworthy as Ron" VP Banker, who manages one of the larger and more complex portfolios in North Texas (BB&T).
Ron’s primary objective for Shawarma Press Franchising is to work closely with the founders to help the company make informed meaningful decisions in order to provide financial clarity and sustainable scalable growth.
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