As I walked into the Diamond Fish, it took me sometime convince myself that I did walk into a seafood restaurant. There was no pungent waft of seafood which is inevitable in most seafood restaurants. The calm and cool interiors were relaxing and I was greeted by Ms. Zainab Ahmed, Founder and Managing Director, with warm smile. She walked me to an artistically decorated table with Moroccan designs across a blue wall with the motifs of floating fishes.
Fresh Food, Healthy Choices, Affordable prices, are the three elements that make us different than other seafood places in the Kingdom.
Diamond Fish is a seafood restaurant located at Al Raya Mall in the Juffair District of Bahrain. The restaurant is a dream project of Ms. Zainab Ahmed, a culinary expert, a jewelry aesthetic, and a warm family person. Gulf Insider is happy to introduce Ms. Zainab and her ambitious plans to globalize the Bahraini Seafood cuisine through uniquely designed and carefully selected menu. Her dream is to see Bahrain as the center of Gulf seafood industry.
What was your motivation to pursue a career in the restaurant business?
I always had a dream to become a business woman, who can be a role model to my children. Jobs are great however they limit your ability to innovate and grow, therefore I decided to pursue business on my childhood passion, that’s sea food.
As Bahrain is an Island, seafood has been an integral part of Bahraini cuisine for centuries. As a child, I always enjoyed family seafood gatherings. As I grew up, I enjoyed all aspects of seafood and learnt different cuisines and as continuation of this passion, I decided to open a seafood restaurant.
Why the name Diamond Fish?
Diamonds are the most precious Jewelry and it is well said Diamonds are woman’s best friends. When I decided to open this restaurant, I linked the fish to the most precious jewelry to reflect the true theme of this place, “Different in everything and precious”
I like to mention the role of seafood in Bahraini Culture. Over the centuries, there has been a tradition where the Head of the family would bring fresh sea food from market, and mother would cook it while the whole family would sit around the table to relish the delicacies. These weekly family reunions created family bonding in our society. We, at Diamond Fish are trying to reinvent this role of seafood where families can come and have reunions.
What are your day-today responsibilities as a restaurant owner?
Restaurant is the most sophisticated service business. Our customers are the center of our operation, and keeping that in mind, I take personal responsibility in all aspects of our operation. My roles start everyday with monitoring fresh sea food purchase, and meeting with chefs and staff to review customer feedback or operational issues from the previous day. We together make weekly cuisine schedules and plans for the whole week. To achieve operational excellence, I monitor all aspects of daily operation, including customer interaction, food quality, new menu, and growth plans. I do remote management even when I am away, to ensure customer experience with quality food and service.
As an employer, what do you look for in your employees?
Honesty and good manners are the most important elements that I look for in my employees. We can train them about any other skills, but we cannot seed honesty and good manners in employees.
Personal interview is major part of my hiring process as I don’t depend only on written CVs to hire new employees. I spend several hours interviewing my employees before putting them in real life scenarios. During the interview, I focus on creativity, human interaction, Customer services and adaptation of new ideas.
What are your signature dishes?
We are a dynamic and evolving place. Our sea food ‘Shrimp Maloccai’ is very popular amongst our customers.
Many of our customers have asked us to introduce Moroccan dishes which we recently added to our menu. “Chicken Taijan” is our Signature dish in the Moroccan cuisine.
I am working on our drink Menu and some of the recipes that we are developing will be among the best in the region.
How do you think that your restaurant stand apart from other seafood restaurants in the Kingdom?
Fresh Food, Healthy Choices, Affordable prices, are the three elements that make us different than other seafood places in the Kingdom. Our staff members are trained to identify fresh seafood and spend few hours every day at the Sitra harbor where fisherman come with their daily catch. We pick our supplies from the fisherman directly to guarantee the freshness of our dishes.
We use fresh greens and avoid using artificial colors, or fats. We make sure to contribute to the wellbeing of the Bahrain citizens by providing healthy food. Our cooking style is unique with specially prepared spices and ingredients. We have unique “Diamond Fish cooking style which is adopted from Bahraini Kitchen, Egyptian Kitchen and Western Kitchen.
We keep our prices very reasonable and lower than most other seafood restaurants.
So when you look for Fresh, Healthy, Tasty, and Affordable seafood there is no choice other than Diamond Fish Restaurant.
Do you have regular customers who come over for the delicacies?
Yes, I do. People come from all over GCC as they have heard of ‘Shrimp Moloccai’. We have regular visitors from US navy staff who make sure to attend our place for dinner during their stopovers in Bahrain. We are launching unique loyalty program for our regular customers. Through this program, we will be able to custom prepare our food for our regular customers. We have introduced finger foods for our corporate customers who come here for light lunch and healthy seafood snack out of which ‘Grilled Shrimp on Sticks’ are quite popular. People also order our food after trying it once through the standard delivery services.
What is the greatest source for your success?
I should say that the greatest source for my success came from my father’s blessings and mother’s prayers. My husband is my backbone. He guides me in all aspects of business from ideas to improving the restaurant. My kids are my motivation. Bayader, Khalifa and Sultan encourage me to move further in my success.
I am proud and grateful that I am a Bahraini. The Government here is very supportive to entrepreneurs like me. Without our Government, I wouldn’t have started a business at all, and I look forward to repay in my own ways to the country.
Finally, but importantly, my customers and those who love me play an integral part in my success.
What do you enjoy the most in this business?
I thrive to see happy customers enjoying quality food and spending good time my place. Of course, the restaurant is my world and I am happy with the team work and dedication of my staff and their passion for the place. I enjoy compliments that I get from my customers which reflect our goal of providing healthy and tasty food in relaxing environment.
How do the restaurant business differ from the typical expectations?
I used to think that the business is a success, whenever I used to see a crowd in front of any restaurant. But, when I entered the business I realized that it is quite competitive and challenging and the expenses are quite high. Due to the huge number of diverse restaurants in Bahrain, I face many challenges, including fluctuating sea food pricing, ever evolving customer preferences, and diverse choices available for our customers in the kingdom. We are people’s business and we have to continuously fulfill their expectations in a very dynamic way, which makes restaurant business a challenging business.
We end our discussion over the revitalizing glasses of Moroccan tea. I couldn’t fail to notice how Ms. Zainab instructs her staff on the height at which the tea has been poured. Ms. Zainab remembers from the previous day’s interaction that I don’t like too much sugar on your drinks. I couldn’t help but admire how she has noted the preference of a customer even with a single meeting. With her attention to the minutest details, passion and dedication, the Diamond Fish will successfully wade into dazzling