We never thought we'd see this concept in Kuwait, but surely enough it saw the light. Always a hub for innovative regional food instituitions, Kuwaitis excel in the art of good food and different culinary experiences; Humbah is one of them. A moving food truck/restaurant on wheels, Humbah is the first of its kind in Kuwait. Not only that but, it's also making marks around the city with long lines awaiting its presence and a huge mob wherever it goes.
Khaleejesque got together with the young talented entrepreuners behind this concept, Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah and Mohammed Al-Soudan and discussed the familiar pastime of 'stuffing oneself' with food.
How did the idea of Humbah come about?
It all began last August. Both my partner and I graduated and were still unemployed. We came up with the concept because of our love for burgers and the numerous sauce mixtures we like to add to the normal run of the mill burgers; so a burger joint was the perfect initiative. The idea was also set to challenge other burger joints that have been franchised from abroad – a bit of a burger invasion we may say.
Why did you choose the name Humbah?
We wanted the name to be catchy, and Kuwaiti. People often think of mangos when referring to Humbah. There's a famous quote in our local Kuwaiti dialect that goes "يا غالي والطلب همبه". Humbah is another word for 'butambah' or pudgy; usually referred to little fat kids. We had a close friend who was nicknamed 'Humbah' when he was a kid, and that further influenced our choice to call the burger joint Humbah.
Why did you choose to make it a mobile restaurant?
We chose to make it a mobile restaurant in our quest to serve all. We've constantly found ourselves sometimes not going to certain restaurants or cafes, due to their locations and traffic; hence a mobile restaurant can cater to several areas and get closer to the consumers. Also, we have seen mobile restaurants abroad and thought the idea would best work in Kuwait since we often love to change atmospheres and dining experiences. We also offer catering; it's a different concept than other catering services in the sense that you have the whole kitchen at your doorstep experience, something new and never been done in Kuwait.
Were there any obstacles encountered in your 'Humbah' quest?
Like every new business, we've found that bureaucracy is a tad bit too much. It took us more than 3 months just to get the license, and every simple task required more than a day to finish while running between different ministries and offices. Also, the actual restaurant trailer proved to be an obstacle as well, since moving this gigantic trailer required a lot of effort. We often move it late at night or at the wee hours of the morning, when traffic is at its lowest.
How did you set the food and choose what to serve?
At first we started coming up with our own recipes and ingredients, which we then went through with our resident chef. After having a couple of prototypes done, we made samples and tested them through our family and friends.
How has the feedback been towards 'Humbah'?
Great Alhamdulilla! We got our 1,000th twitter follower only 2 weeks in the market! We're now up to 3,000 followers, a significant number if one notes that we've actually started 3 months ago, in February 2012.
The feedback has been amazing towards our products, we've experienced long lines wherever we've gone; and also a clan of "Hubambahs" (Humbah Fans) following us at every location. Other flattering feedback was the fact that a couple of businesses approached us regarding franchising to the Gulf in Qatar and the UAE; unfortunately we've had to turn them down, since we're still a young startup, and need to focus more on our startup, but inshallah in the future that might be an option.
What's in the future for Humbah?
Definitely franchising, and hopefully several branches in Kuwait. We'd like to build a recognizable brand, something that people will know upon first glance; right now we believe we are on the right track.
Where can people try Humbah?
Follow us on Twitter and find out where we'll "stuff" you next! @humbahkw
– Khaleejesque staff