JEDDAH: Sustainability and the environment have topped the menu of a new Saudi restaurant.
Founded three months ago by Saudi nationals Mohammed Mosalli and Abdulelah Al-Hadidi, Jeddah-based Nawa Patio offers a range of organic international fusion cuisine.
But it’s not just the restaurant’s food that’s designed to nourish — guests can also take part in yoga and meditation classes or grow their own vegetables.
Mosalli told Arab News: “It’s an experience. We like to call ourselves a Conscious Patio because we support sustainability practices.
“We offer yoga and meditation classes here, and we invite our customers to come learn and sow seeds in our planting area. We ask them to make an intention and plant,” he said.
The design theme of the restaurant was inspired by ancient civilizations such as Sumerians, Thamud, Lihyan and Nabataeans.
“Regarding the look and feel of the place, the layout and furnishings are made up of all natural elements, such as wood, stones, clay, plants, etc.,” Mosalli added.
And the use of plastic is avoided wherever possible. “We use recyclable or compostable materials when it comes to plastic or paper.
“In the kitchen, we first have a plan to educate our staff and customers, in terms of sustainability practices, food waste management…it’s about ordering less food and managing waste,” he said.
A compost machine in the kitchen is used to process leftover food from customers’ plates.
“We give them the opportunity to give them to us to use in the compost machine. And then we can use the end product as soil for plants,” he added.
Diners are also encouraged to take their excess food home or donate it to local food banks, charities and humanitarian programs.
Al-Hadidi said, “Nawa Patio is about impact, and we recruit people who share our values, people who want to contribute to the enrichment of our guests and customers.
“That’s why even though some of them may not have the experience, we only focus on their attitudes and the values they share with Nawa, and recruit accordingly.”
The restaurant music playlist has been customized to provide a comfortable and soothing effect.
“People want to go to places that really live up to their expectations in terms of feel, look and feel.
“As a result, we pay extra attention to our music and make sure to play music that matches the mood in the morning, afternoon and evening – we’ve customized our playlist to mimic the frequency brain waves that best suits people at a particular time or time of day,” Al-Hadidi added.
South African chef Abdullah Abrahams said the restaurant uses unwanted leftovers so no food goes to waste.
“We have one dish that we are still working on, which is the sweet potato Wagyu taco. Using the sweet potato scraps from a main dish, one tries to turn it into a sweet potato paste and then use it as a base or as a bread.
“And recently we discussed using scraps for our soup of the day. There are so many things that can be produced from food waste. Mohammed and Abdulelah inspired me and brought my attention to the whole concept of trying to be more sustainable, eco-friendly and reduce our carbon footprint on Earth.
“We don’t have a fryer in the kitchen. The whole restaurant is on the same page to think about how to help the Earth,” he added.
Abrahams noted that it was important to develop a kitchen culture around the need to avoid throwing away food.
He said: “I’m very committed to sustainability when it comes to thinking about how not to throw away food, and I’m also looking to change my chefs’ thought patterns.”