Sandwiched between an Irish pub and the corner of Bank and McLaren streets in the heart of Ottawa’s gay village is a restaurant that has climbed to the top of the fast food pyramid.
Wisam (Sam) Daoud, owner and manager of the Quiznos at 311 Bank St, has successfully combined three key ingredients — cleanliness, freshness and customer service — to turn his sub-making venture into an efficient and award-winning restaurant.
In July, his Quiznos location was rated the best in Canada by Quiznos Canada.
“When I first heard the news I had no idea that I was number one in the country. I didn’t make a deal out of it because there are about 21 or 22 Quiznos [restaurants] in Ottawa, and then I heard we were number one in Canada. That’s when it was really like ‘Wow,'” Daoud says.
In August 2010, the former intellectual-property professional took a break from his career for a turn in the restaurant business. In keeping with his reputation for being a perfectionist, Daoud researched the market, did the numbers and decided to throw his energy into the Quiznos franchise.
“For somebody who has never owned a restaurant, to start something from scratch is very challenging, and it’s almost a recipe for disaster,” he says. “I wanted to see a concept that works and a name that people know and buy into that. Quiznos falls into that category.”
Since taking over the restaurant, Daoud has diligently followed the franchise’s guidelines for maintaining freshness; keeping the restaurant, kitchen and storage areas clean; and delivering good customer service.
“I have zero compromise in all these three areas,” he says.
As Daoud talks about sprucing up the restaurant — throwing out equipment, buying new, sparkling-clean machines and revamping the staff — I find myself sitting up straight and wanting to say “Yes sir” to each statement. Daoud clearly has no tolerance for any sort of tardiness, and that extends to his employees.
“I don’t want to sound as if I rule with an iron fist, but I handpick my own employees,” he says. “You have to have a good team. That’s where it all starts.”
When Daoud bought the store, he inherited nine staff members. Four remain, and three new members have been added to the team.
Daoud’s philosophy is simple: customers come first.
“That’s the way I want my business to be; that’s the way I want to run it… I do it for my customers,” he says. “We keep it clean, keep it fresh and we give good customer service to make sure our customers return. And if we get an award, that’s a bonus.”
That philosophy extends to the restaurant’s outside catering. Daoud does it all himself; if there are 40 subs, he prepares them and, if possible, delivers them.
“I don’t want to leave any room for error. I want it to be perfect,” he says.
Perfection combined with boundless energy appear to be Daoud’s two key ingredients.
“I bought a new house, got married and bought a store all in six months, so it was all very hectic,” he says, adding, “My wife doesn’t like how many hours I spend here.”
Daoud intends to keep doing his best to make sure that Quiznos retains its reputation.
He chose to buy the store on Bank St because of its location. Being in the heart of the gay village (Dauod is planning to display a rainbow flag on the entrance door) is marketable, and, Daoud says with a grin, “some of my best customers belong to the gay community.”
This customer found herself walking out of Quiznos with Daoud’s favourite sub — the prime rib with peppercorn sauce.
The verdict? The restaurant may have been awarded the prize for cleanliness, freshness and customer service, but they left out one category – taste. The sub was quite delicious.