Ala-kazam Featured

1:17pm EDT June 22, 2004
When Fady Chamoun emigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1972, he had only $10 in his pocket. So after enrolling in the University of Michigan's engineering school, he took a full-time job at Little Caesars to help pay for his education.

Chamoun stayed with the pizza company after graduation, and for the next two decades, learned everything he could about the restaurant industry from owner Mike Illitch. Chamoun also purchased and ran 40 Little Caesar franchises, which helped him develop his own business philosophies.

Those philosophies led Chamoun to sell off his franchises in 1993, walking away with $10,000 after paying off his debts. He used the money as a down payment to open his own restaurant, Aladdin's Eatery, with one goal in mind -- to offer American/Lebanese cuisine in a casual dining atmosphere.

Eleven years later, his goal has been realized. His Aladdin's Eatery chain boasts 17 locations in five states and a food distribution company, Jasmine Bakery, which supplies fresh food products and baked goods to all Aladdin's locations.

Chamoun has done this by sticking to four basic business tenants: Implement systematic processes that monitor and measure all parts of the operation, align personal principles with business goals, maximize distribution channels to take advantage of volume efficiencies, and give customers what they want.

He has succeeded in an industry in which failure rates are high by refusing to incur debt to finance his expansion. All growth has been funded through profits and cash flow, and Chamoun has yet to experience a single location failure.

He says he will continue to use this method of development as he takes Aladdin's to other parts of the United States. How to reach: Aladdin's Eatery, (216) 226-2020 or