Iraqi-British serial entrepreneur and CASSETTE/NETTE co-founder Haider Madani’s interest in F&B and extensive knowledge in business operations are what started the business.
Along with his nephews, Husain and Hasan of multi-disciplinary interior design firm H2R Design, they have turned their heads and hands to build two favourite homegrown casual bistro concepts.
One is CASSETTE at The Courtyard, Al Quoz, a community and creative hub offering healthy dishes, light bites, and locally-sourced speciality coffees, and more in casual café setting. While the second, NETTE, specialises in offering a nourishing menu with Japanese-French flavors. Set within Matcha Club and a lush outdoor padel destination, NETTE offers guests a place to rest, reboot, and refuel.
Scroll through to read how Haider Madani found his place within the F&B industry, with sustainability and community at the core.
What inspired you to enter the F&B industry and develop CASSETTE/NETTE? Were you interested in this from a young age?
I always had a personal interest in the F&B industry and was looking to create a space where people could enjoy great food in an electric ambiance with personalized service. By joining forces with my nephews, Hasan and Husain, the founders of H2R Design, Parisian bistro concept CASSETTE was born, in The Courtyard, Al Quoz followed by the opening of Nette in Al Quoz’s, Matcha Club.
What sets CASSETTE/NETTE apart and what can guests expect? Tell us more about the concept.
CASSETTE was born out of a passion for serving quality fresh food in a cool, relaxing, and cosy atmosphere. Creating a healthy and sustainable-focused restaurant menu has always been our goal since day one. We are most passionate about this as we feel it is one of the aspects that has the greatest immediate contribution to our planet.
With the great response we received following the opening of CASSETTE, I had been eagerly awaiting a new opportunity to bring a fresh palate of flavours to the Dubai food scene in another unique venue. Matcha Club, a boutique padel club and community hangout felt very suited. Offering padel courts as well as mindfulness classes such as yoga and meditation, the fresh new concept seemed to be the perfect destination for our innovative French-Japanese fusion-inspired menu. It gave us inspiration to create a design model that integrated both the dining and the padel experience, in a market that is health-conscious and driven by the importance of wellbeing.
What hurdles did you encounter when you launched, and how did you overcome them?
Starting and launching both businesses came with multiple hurdles along the way. Operationally, we were faced with various challenges in terms of acquiring the necessary paperwork and external approvals from the governing parties, etc. in preparation for the openings.
Following this, COVID-19 was also around the corner and played a huge role in reshaping the way we launched, along with the fear of the unknown following the outbreak of what the future holds to then understanding how consumers’ purchasing choices have changed and thus, adapting accordingly. However, it’s safe to say all has been overcome with the support of the wider team and staff, with continuous positivity and optimism.
What do you enjoy the most about running CASSETTE/NETTE?
CASSETTE/NETTE are more than just your neighborhood cafes. What sets us apart from other local destinations is the community we have nurtured and continue to build on a daily basis. There is something deeply satisfying about feeding people and creating memorable experiences and connections that people choose to come back to again and again, and that is what makes the work even more enjoyable, and rewardable. The bond that we have also built internally, amongst the teams has played a massive role in all that we have achieved together and continues to do so.
How does your role drive the business forward and what have been the clear goals to date?
The goal since day one has been to serve quality coffee and fresh food in a trendy, relaxing, and cozy atmosphere. A place where we knew our customers by their first names. We envisioned a home away from home.
Further to this, it’s also creating a healthy and sustainable-focused restaurant menu. We are most passionate about this as we feel it is one of the aspects that has the greatest immediate contribution to our planet.
We should not forget that the future of F&B is also in values and ethics. Things like providing free water and recycled materials, and no single-use plastics. Consumers are aware of and looking beyond the product itself. We are all wanting a better, greener environment, and making any purchase we consider values such as ethics and transparency.
What would be your advice for those wanting to start up their own business?
I would say with dedication, anybody can achieve what they want. If you have a goal and dream in mind, it can be achieved (with a lot of sweat and tears), but it’s the most rewards in the long run. Dream and drive, go for it!
To you, what are the must-try dishes at NETTE?
My personal favorite is the Japanese Miso Eggplant, it blends all the Japanese flavors with a NETTE twist.
And your personal favourite vinyl at CASSETTE?
The Miseducation by Lauryn Hill.
What are your wellness rituals?
For me, it’s the perfect balance between spending time in Cassette’s bustling and inspiring courtyard, while also being surrounded by Nette’s greenery and airy space.
I also cherish my personal time outside of work. You can find me in the gym, working on my padel and tennis skills, often on expeditions and off-roading. Most of all, spending time with my family is what keeps me grounded and refreshed.
What are powerful habits that have changed your life and career?
Keeping myself grounded, whether it’s being surrounding myself with family, or in the outdoors. As well as taking care of my mental health, by eating well and sustaining a healthy lifestyle overall.