For nearly a decade, Maha has been redefining how Melbourne enjoys Middle Eastern food. In our first ever Behind the Bar interview, we spoke to Naomi Lindon, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Delia Group and Maha.
What is it about Maha that has made it so successful?
Our commitment to hospitality. We don’t ever lose sight of being hospitable – that means there’s a place for us in Melbourne and a really loyal customer base. In Maha’s inception it was there and it goes back to our Director’s family motto – his family crest means hospitality. So I think it’s born in Shane (Delia), and he’s the captain of the ship so it flows down through the team.
What do you like the most about working with your team?
The diversity of the team– whether it’s someone who’s got a casual job in the bar, or our long-term staff members – hospitality professionals who have been in the game for years. We have a mix of young and old… it’s a joy to work with a diverse bunch.
How do you manage the pace of working in hospitality?
It is a high-pressure environment. Our focus is health and our wellbeing. We need to be balanced. Particularly in the office, we encourage the team to be physically active. We support each other to take on new challenges. For example, couple of years ago I ran my first marathon. Shane’s also really active and involved with different teams in the community – he’s also personally active and gets up early for boxing, gym etc. Being active has a positive impact on how the team feels and performs.
What’s been your favourite experience so far at Maha/Delia Group?
Probably creating the Men and Women of Melbourne events held last year at Maha. We were able to come together with some influential Melbourne business, sporting and entertainment people to make a social commitment and make a difference. We donated funds to Beyond Blue, YWCA and Very Special Kids. So it was great to have the idea come to life with out team. We are a for-profit company, but it’s so great to use our relationships in the community to create positive change.
What do you try to achieve through presentation, uniforms and design through the restaurant?
We recently refreshed the restaurant, and as part of that refresh, we look at the restaurant holistically – we consider the look and aesthetic of everything around the customer. That comes down to scent – whether it’s the smell of food or sweet incense – to the feel of textures, linen and how the wait staff look. It was crucial to strip back what they wear and rethink it completely. I also believe that if you look good you feel good – and we wanted the customer’s experience to be enhanced through that.
Finally, what’s your perfect after-work drink or snack?
At the moment – it’s a cup of tea and a bit of dark chocolate!