BY Lisa Cipriano
Bateel is the Arabic word for the young branch of the date palm tree. Bateel is also the name of an increasingly popular and continually expanding brand of gourmet fare based in Dubai. And now, its delicacies can be enjoyed here in the U.S. at its very first retail location in Oakland County’s beautiful city of Birmingham.
It all began in 1992 in a small town in Central Arabia’s Riyadh Province called Al-Ghat – a place with ideal water, soil and climate conditions that are the perfect recipe to produce the most tender, delicious world-class dates. “Dates are a staple in Middle Eastern culture,” explained General Manager of Bateel USA, Jehan Kejbou. “They only grow and thrive in the hot desert of the Middle East with its dry hot summers.” In fact, Bateel offers more than 20 varieties of dates from its very own ideally situated date farms.
It was on one of those Saudi Arabian date farms where Bateel Owner, Dr. Ziad Al Sudairy had the idea to turn this Middle Eastern staple food into something even more special and offer them to the world in a variety of ways. Organic balsamic vinegars made from dates, pastries with delicious dates and dates combined with some of the world’s most premium chocolates imported from France and Belgium are just some of the ways Bateel is quickly, strategically and successfully winning its way into the world’s palate.
That very finest of fare along with a group of investors has helped turn that first shop in Riyadh into an international chain of 36 shops and seven cafes in 16 countries.
Now, one of those boutiques is proudly and strategically located on 215 N. Old Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, Michigan. It officially opened its doors this past April and is finding a wide-range of eager customers. “The surrounding community has been very welcoming,” Kejbou said. “We have a terrific range of people from Middle Easterners/Chaldeans to Jewish people to your average walk-ins who are now regular customers. There are people who have never really tried dates and are loving them.”
Of course, that means there are plans in the works for more U.S. locations in the future. “The next locations on the five to 10 year plan are Georgetown in Washington D.C., New York City and Los Angeles,” added Kejbou. The long-term goal is to have a Bateel shop in every major city in America.
Until then, the company has a shipping operation for those in the U.S. who need their Bateel but don’t have a shop near their home. “We have always done tremendous amount of online shipping via email for our client base all over the country even prior to us opening this store,” said Kejbou. “We’re currently working on putting up an online order form on our website for our Birmingham boutique. It should be up and running in the next few weeks.” The items come directly from Dubai and are stored in Bateel U.S.A.’s new warehouse in Southfield, which supplies the Birmingham store and its online orders.
You can always order online. But, it’s worth a trip to the Birmingham store as its charm is certainly something to behold. It was modeled down to the very last detail after Bateel’s flagship store in Dubai in an exacting effort to give customers that authentic Bateel feel. “Our architect traveled to Dubai, photographed and took samples of wallpaper, countertops and everything,” explained Kejobou. “She brought it all back to Michigan and designed the whole store to look like you walked into the store in Dubai. She did a fantastic job.”
The luxurious new boutique currently employs five people. The local Chaldean community has played a big part in making Bateel’s first U.S. location come to life. “I’m Chaldean. Our architect, builder and one of our owners is Chaldean,” said Kejbou.
In fact, Bateel fare is emerging as a hot, new trend at weddings within the community. Massive pastry tables complete with pyramids of Bateel dates are a Chaldean wedding hit. But, the sweetest, most sought-after wedding treat are its valet boxes – a small sample of Bateel luxury placed in the vehicle of each wedding guest. It’s a brilliant way to help give everyone a taste of Bateel and build a solid client base. It’s also a great way to bring a true taste of the Middle East to a wedding feast.
You don’t have to wait until you’re gifted it, though. The new Bateel Boutique in Birmingham is open and ready to serve you. “Come in and let us feed you,” concluded Kejbou.
Visit the Bateel U.S.A. website for more information: http://bateelusa.com/ or call (248) 885-8006