Genuine, persistent, and dynamic, Ayman Baky has played a significant role in shaping the hospitality and entertainment industry and has built a remarkable reputation in the market over the years. With passion and dedication, Ayman has succeeded in introducing exquisite eatery concepts that stand out as upscale fine dining attractions, not only in Egypt but also in the region. From Sachi, Kazoku, and Lexie’s, to Shinko and soon-to-launch Reif Kushiyaki, the fine dining guru grew Baky Hospitality to fame and excellence, one concept and brand at a time.
Prior to his journey in the fine-dining world, Ayman took the nightlife scene in Egypt by the storm with major parties. In fact, it comes as no surprise the well-deserved credit he earned with hard-work and commitment in every step he took along the way. Intrigued to know more about his success story in building and establishing his own empire in hospitality, we had a talk with Ayman Baky where we learned more about him on both a professional and a personal level, and of course, his iconic and eccentric sense of fashion – we wouldn’t have missed talking about this too.
First, we would like to know how your journey in hospitality started.
It started when I began to do major underground parties back in university and for years after I graduated, more specifically from 1992 up to 2001, until I said “that’s enough!”. I knew then that the hospitality industry suits my character better and that I have an immense passion for it. I decided I wanted to own a small neighborhood bar and lounge in Zamalek - which I did a year later- after partnering up with one of the most reputable chefs in the scene at the time. Ever since, opportunities kept coming and I had great ideas for the restaurant and bar business in Egypt. Since then, there have been many successes as well as failures but all of these circumstances contributed to getting us to where we are now.
Since the opening of your very first upscale restaurant, Sachi, you succeeded in introducing fresh and distinctive concepts to the market. Have you faced any challenges? And did you expect Baky Hospitality to grow that big?
My team and I decided to launch our very first restaurant, Sachi in Heliopolis in 2014 during one of Egypt’s most challenging times. So, essentially, we’ve been facing challenges since day one! Being in a growing market we’re constantly facing external challenges but the most important challenge is the one we set for ourselves. We always aim to deliver excellence and so we are mainly focused on constantly bettering our hospitality services.
Overall, I believe it is important to set a vision when creating a business, however, I had no expectations to grow Baky Hospitality to this scale. I would credit our growth to good execution, a well-coordinated team and, because of it, the opportunities that have come our way.
Baky Hospitality, having earned Luxury Lifestyle Award, has succeeded in putting Egypt on the international hospitality map. In your opinion, what were the elements that helped you reach that strong position in the region?
We are grateful for having earned the Luxury Lifestyle Award as well as many other accolades; they are all a recognition to our dedicated efforts as well as a reminder to keep raising our standards. I am lucky to have such a loyal and hard-working team who shares the same passion and believes in the mission of Baky Hospitality, which is to be amongst the region’s top luxury hospitality providers. And so, I think our united spirit, our creativity, hard-work and our determination to innovate by introducing new dishes and new concepts is the driving force behind what makes us stand out in the market.
Personally, I have to say, I couldn’t have done this without my faith in the Lord, I believe this is a big puzzle that came together in such a harmonious way and so, for all that Baky Hospitality and I have right now, from its venues down to every single individual in the company, I am deeply grateful and humbled.
We heard about a new culinary experience launching soon, Reif Kushiyaki. Could you tell us more about it?
If you’ve already been to Dubai and you’ve craved ramen you surely know about Reif Kushiyaki! So, in an organized effort with my good friend chef Reif Othman – who was also the Culinary Advisor to our restaurants for the past three years – we decided to fill the gap for elevated street food in the Egyptian market, by bringing the Reif Kushiyaki brand to New Cairo. Reif Kushiyaki’s menu consists of Japanese favourites executed in an unconventional way. I won’t tell you much more, you need to try it out for yourself once we are open! Stay tuned!
We wanted to fill the gap because so far, we have been focusing on the fine dining sector and so we want to open up our audience by targeting a new segment in the market where we can offer very good food and make it widely available so, we are planning on having Reif Kushiyaki open on Cairo’s major hubs; East & West and the North Coast.
Now with Baky Hospitality’s footprints in Cairo and North Coast, are you landing Gouna anytime soon?
No plans for Gouna yet, we currently have our hands full with all the projects going on, but when the opportunity arises, we’ll be sure to bring our hospitality services to the Gounistas.
Any plans to add boutique hotels to Baky Hospitality’s portfolio?
In the near future hopefully, but I won’t be able to say much at this stage.
Throughout this successful journey, when have you felt most accomplished?
Honestly, when I stop and think about the working force in the company and realize that the company has over 500 employees. This thought fills my heart with gratitude
Now besides hospitality, you have an iconic fashion taste. We would like to know how you’d describe your style, your go-to labels, and fashion inspiration?
I love being playful with my style. I like preppy waistcoats and a pair of well-designed leather shoes, but I like to wear them in a cool and less formal way. I don’t have a preference in a particular brand, I like to keep it fresh and cool - David Beckham is my style icon. I am a tattoo freak and I think that also plays a big part in my identity.
Now let’s get the readers to know more about Ayman
On a scale of 1-10, how much of a risk-taker are you?
7, I am a risk taker but I also like to calculate my moves.
On a scale of 1-10, how patient are you?
9, I’m a Virgo so I’m pretty patient!
What makes you truly happy?
Seeing people around me happy.
And your biggest pet peeve?
What’s your idea of quality time?
And your ideal holiday destination?
The Greek islands.
Do you follow your heart or your mind?
My heart overrides my mind, let’s just put it that way.
Do you tend to have regrets sometimes?
Of course, we all do, we’re normal human beings.
5 words that best describe you
Fun, honest, energetic, humble, and genuine.
A habit you want to change
I am happy and grateful with everything as it is right now.
How would you sum up your life philosophy or a quote you like to live by?
“Live your life to the best because you only live once”
Finally, an advice you’d give to young entrepreneurs?
Follow your gut feelings, believe in the idea that you have, don’t give up and have some patience because success takes time.