WK Holding and C3 to Establish International Joint Venture

Layla Issa Abuzaid - WK Holding and C3 to Establish International Joint Venture- TOP25RESTAURANTS-TRAVELINDEXRiyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 31, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / Creating Culinary Communities (C3), the leading global food tech platform founded by visionary Sam Nazarian, joins WK Holding, the leading Saudi Arabia based investment House to announce Ian Toal as CEO of C3 Arabia. Ian Toal’s new post encompasses more than 30 years of leadership experience in global hospitality, international supply chain management and quick service restaurants.

The news of Ian Toal’s appointment follows the recent announcement of the partnership between C3 and WK Holding to establish C3 Arabia, an international joint venture to manage and operate full service culinary markets featuring award-winning chef-driven restaurants, digital kitchens and mobile delivery. Launched in 2019 by Sam Nazarian, Founder and CEO, C3 has pioneered the food tech space and is the fastest-growing food-tech platform today. C3 is re-imagining the food service industry by tapping into the power of exceptional culinary talent, digital brand IP, and bringing its portfolio of more than 40 culinary brands to established digital kitchens and mobile delivery with the next-gen Go by Citizens app.

Expanding into international markets, C3 Arabia is a joint venture funded by Smart Food Holding (SFH) , a division of WK Holding and C3 by sbe through its consortium of high-profile partners, including Layla Abuzaid, Tharawat Technology and Yasser Alobaidan. Abuzaid has embarked to assemble an operating team based in Riyadh, which CEO Ian Toal will now oversee, working to identify, mentor, and incubate local culinary talent and deliver best in-class execution across the C3 Arabia operating platform.

Commenting on the new appointment, C3’s Founder and CEO Sam Nazarian said, “This is an exciting time for C3 as we introduce our digital restaurant brands to Saudi Arabia. I am thrilled to have C3 Arabia’s CEO Ian Toal at the helm to ensure a success. His wealth of knowledge and experience are invaluable as we work to create renowned high-energy dining destinations for food and culture in the Middle East.”

Layla Abuzaid, Founder and CEO of WK Holding, said, “We’re thrilled to announce the appointment of Ian Toal as CEO of C3 Arabia. Ian’s robust track record serving as former CEO of Alfa Corporation and President of Alshaya Group fueled by his pioneering outlook will prove invaluable as we transform the food and beverage industries in the region. Ian’s regional expertise combined with the visionary leadership of our partner Sam Nazarian will generate an unprecedented platform to unlock local culinary talent, celebrate Saudi’s vibrant culture and usher in a dynamic, holistic lifestyle model that positions the Kingdom as a global hub and an epicenter of innovation in line with Vision 2030.”

Ms Abuzaid continued, ” We’re in a privileged position. We’re able to instigate truly transformative change and embed world-class operations because of the vision and ambition of our government. It takes unwavering resilience and an enduring commitment to the future of our country and its people to break through barriers, and today our country has this leadership.”

C3 Arabia’s CEO, Ian Toal, has a career that has spanned from the USA, Europe, and the Gulf Cooperation Council – the economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Toal has led more than 40 brands across 600 restaurants in 10 countries. These successes have led to a global understanding of what it takes to make international business successful, as well as achieving targets both financial and personal for investors.

Most recently, Ian Toal helmed the Riyadh-based Alfa Co. which operates 10 restaurant and digital kitchen brands globally and holds almost 100 brick and mortar locations. Alfa Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary by Al Fasaliah Group, one of the top Saudi corporations led by its president HRH Prince Mohammed Al Faisal. During his time with Alfa Co., Toal led the expansion of award-winning restaurants such as Steak House, Piatto, FireGrill, City Fresh Kitchen and Steak House Burgers.

Prior to his work with Alfa Co., Ian Toal served as the President of Alshaya Group based in Kuwait. During his time with Alshaya Group he managed the expansion of global brands such as The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, Texas Roadhouse, Shake Shack, Blaze Pizza, Raising Cane’s, Pizza Express, Katsuya, Spontini, Dean & Deluca, Ihop and Pinkberry. He was voted “World’s Best Restaurant Partner” by the Global Restaurant leadership conference in 2017 /18.

Commenting on his new post, Ian Toal said, “I am honored to be working with visionaries Sam Nazarian and Layla Abuzaid. The sky is the limit as we aim to bring C3’s world renowned talent and global brands to Saudi Arabia. I look forward to leading this charge and identifying, mentoring and incubating local culinary talent, working to brand and export Saudi hospitality culture to the world.”

C3 Arabia is set to introduce 40 international brands to the region including C3’s popular global brands including Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Krispy Rice, Sa’Moto, Cicci di Carne, El Pollo Verde, Kumi, EllaMia, Plant Nation, 12 Caviar and more. For C3, no other restaurant group has amassed such an influential collective of globally renowned culinary talents. Across C3 portfolio brands, Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Dario Cecchini, Katsuya Uechi, Dani Garcia, Michael Israel, Vincenzo Rossy and Romain Fornell have made haute cuisine accessible, cultivating a global community of fans.

C3 has sold more than 2.3 million meals during the last twelve months. As of February 2021, C3 has over 800 digital brand locations across the U.S. with an expansion pipeline to well over 1,000. To date, C3 has hired more than 3,500 employees across the U.S. with plans to hire another 5,000 employees domestically and internationally with offices in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, London, United Arab Emirates and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

About C3
C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) is re-imagining the food service industry at a time when change is needed most. Founded and led by visionary Sam Nazarian with minority investors Simon, a global leader in the ownership of premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations, and Accor, the world-leading augmented hospitality group, C3 is simultaneously, systematically and broadly bringing together technology, underutilized retail, hotel and kitchen spaces and world-class culinary talent. C3’s array of culinary brands co-exist to disrupt the food & beverage industry by capitalizing on rapidly evolving customer preferences through C3 established shared kitchens, Citizens food halls and mobile delivery with the next-gen Citizens GO app set to launch in 2021. Current C3 brands include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, EllaMia, In a Bun, The Other Side and Dani Garcia’s El Pollo Verde, with many other brands in the pipeline. As of March 2021, C3 operates 250 digital kitchens across the U.S. To learn more, visit c3sbe.com.

About WK Holding
Founded in 2017 by Layla Issa Abuzaid, who currently serves as CEO, WK Holding is a contemporary investment House that generates mutually beneficial long-term partnerships and innovative value-creating opportunities between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. Operating across five sectors, entertainment, food and beverage, trading, technology and lifestyle, WK Holdings invests in high quality differentiated assets through an entrepreneurial mindset and an institutional approach.

Today, the WK Holding portfolio includes RAFA/MFA Company, a joint venture between RAFA (Saudi Arabia) and MF Group (the most significant event production company in Russia), RUSSAD, a business hub between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the SAPEG PE FUND established to facilitate foreign investments in the Kingdom.

In 2021, WK Holding introduced Smart Food Holding as a subdivision dedicated to the funding, incubation and innovation of the most exciting brands operating within the food, beverage and lifestyle space. Smart Food Holding is the investment platform for C3 Arabia.