Saturday, November 22, 2014

Roadster Diner on Bliss

    I really can’t think of a starting sentence right now; my stomach is going to explode. I have rewarded myself tonight with a hearty meal at Roadsters—my favorite chicken tenders dipped in BBQ sauce and then re-dipped in a side BBQ sauce with slightly spiced curved potato dippers filled with melted cheddar cheese. I promise you that it is as appetizing as it sounds.

   Roadster Diner can definitely be considered as a success story in Lebanon. Contrarily to what some American friends believed when they came to Lebanon and before they actually tried Roadster, they thought that it was like that kind of regular cheap diner fast food place. What they discovered instead was a quality meal that they could just not get enough of during their stay in the country.
   We cannot deny that Roadster is a Lebanese success story. They have spread across the country with multiple spots with the first branch in Souk Byblos (Jbeil) soon expected to open and, surprisingly, one in Zeytuna Bay (announced the 20th of November on its Facebook page). Their processes are standardized, their customer service is irreproachable, and their customers are always coming back for more. All of that is part of the reason why I hadn’t mentioned them on the blog; there is no or too little room for criticism.
   Recently, Roadster Diner opened its doors on Bliss Street hoping to attract AUB university students or students from IC school—Challenge accepted and met. Roadster on Bliss Street is pretty spacious, counting an area with couches and an area with tables, as well as an outdoor place available for smokers.
Although its prices are arguably slightly higher than the daily average spending of a university student for one meal, Roadster is full at lunch time. Likewise, you can’t show up at 1 am and be guaranteed that you are going to have a place to sit. Also, there are no reservations, Roadster works on a First Come First Serve (FCFS) basis. Thankfully, my break on Tuesdays and Thursdays starts at 11am until 2pm; my friends and I go there around 12:15 pm, before peak time, to find a good place to sit and enjoy lunch.
   Yet, competition on Bliss Street is fierce with food spots closing and opening quite often. Despite that, some snacks and restaurants have established their presence on this Lebanese F&B Wall Street close to AUB. They have committed themselves to provide efficiency, minimized order waiting time and either a leading price or better quality for a fair price for an exigent student with limited resources—time, most certainly.  
   Most of these food spots on Bliss Street provided some solutions for breakfast, including: Mankouchi, sandwiches, wraps, crepes, croissant, cakes, waffles, etc. Roadster is more lunch and dinner driven but it does actually offer a minor menu breakfast choice including pancakes—that people orders as a dessert alternative usually. It was a smart move for Roadster then to launch a wider breakfast menu for its Bliss branch to just welcome all students at anytime in order to retain its customers.
Following their opening, I was invited at their opening party where they served free food and got a band to play. I was also invited earlier to the Insta-meet-up to try out their entire breakfast menu. Their new breakfast menu extends to croissants, sandwiches, eggs and omelets to pancakes and cakes!
   I personally fell in love with their Brie and goat cheese club sandwiches, definitely a must-try—I’ve seen a lady order the sandwiches for dinner how yummy they are! I loved the pancakes as well with the chocolate and the nuts. What I liked the least was the cinnamon cake but this actually goes down to taste preferences since not everyone is a fan of that.
   To sum up, I think that the new breakfast menu is a worthy and successful addition to Roadster’s main menu. If I had any comment about Roadster in Bliss it would actually be about the speed service. In fact, when you go for lunch and it’s very crowded, the time it will take you to get your order is 20 minutes minimum which is more than double the average time (7 mins) it will get you to get anything from Bliss otherwise, (restaurant and snack).  At Roadster, I wait for my food about 20 to 30 mins and then I finish my dish in about 15 mins. I also feel that they should hire more qualified waiters (they are currently looking to recruit more staff for the Bliss branch btw) or train them better; during the first week, the waiters seemed pretty overwhelmed and weren’t really performing at the standards of Roadster in general. I discussed this with some friends and we all agreed that they could have used Zaatar w Zeit (ZWZ) amazing staff for a while or train theirs there because they both belong to the same holding company, or so I believe.
   Overall, this downside doesn’t really represent a problem for Roadster, I am practically sure that this is being taken care of.
Roadster also planned a fun night after a week that it has opened in Bliss, a cool night with the restaurant favorites in mini bouchées and a live playing band!
 “Together Forever”—that is Roadster’s motto.


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