OF A THOUSAND AND ONE DREAMS
‘Many people helped and supported me. When I look back today, I don’t think it would have been possible without them. I’ll never forget a single one of them and I’ll be eternally grateful to all of them.’
Maurice certainly also has his own open and professional manner to thank for securing the many allies and backers who’ve helped him along the way.
The dream of opening the first restaurant in Zurich to serve Lebanese cuisine was ambitious – too ambitious at first. Diners were used to pizza, spaghetti and lasagne. Most visitors had never heard of hummus or mezze and, in the 90s, people were not very daring.
‘There were nights when we only had one guest, but we cooked for them as if we had a full house. Then we sat there, almost driven to despair, and thought about what to do next.’
Maurice decided to continue serving Italian dishes at lunch and let guests sample Lebanese cuisine in the evenings. With this approach, the restaurant quickly became the place to go for those in the know, and the Le Cèdre team’s patience finally paid off. Gradually, well-known figures also found their way to the restaurant, and media hype began to build around Le Cèdre and its owner. The restaurants still attract media attention even now, 19 years on.
Maurice Houraibi’s success is not just down to his business sense and hard work: the support of his family has been crucial, too. One brother has worked as a chef at Le Cèdre on Badenerstrasse since it opened, while the other runs the Bellevue restaurant, which opened in 2009.
With all this activity, it’s no surprise that the company’s ambitions for the future aren’t limited to just three restaurants.
‘It’s not over yet. I have many more dreams. At least a thousand.’
When you talk to Maurice, his desire to bring different cultures together and show that they can get along is palpable.
‘You need tolerance and heart. And as we know, the way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs.’