Sometimes, it’s good to have a little of what you fancy. And Jeddah’s IT café cures cravings so well. Warm cookies, soft, salted caramel cakes and thick wedges of cheesecake are served on speckled white plates next to tasteful mugs filled with rich coffee.
But let’s rewind for a moment. Formerly referred to by its full name, Italian Touch, IT café launched in 2015 and found it was disconnected with nearby residents who yearned for local, authentic cuisine.
With this in mind, owner Mohammed Hafiz and his siblings changed the concept to resonate with the people of Saudi. And this is how they did it: the family bought 80 per cent of the café’s products and ingredients from local suppliers, giving them a platform to sell their goods in the store as well as featuring in recipes.
One of these homegrown suppliers is Sucre De Nada. IT café was the first to sell the patisserie’s cakes and desserts – and now it’s branched out into a standalone store. The venue was also quick to recognise the potential of detox juicing company Quench Me – the first of its kind in KSA – whose high-tech business grew out of founder Nora Gandeel’s kitchen blender.
Next, the family-run joint asked locals to send in their recipes, with the winner becoming a permanent fixture on the menu. Raneen Jouda scooped the prize, and has now grown into a local celebrity, thanks to her best-selling soft and fluffy pancakes with melted pistachio cream.
It’s official. Saudi’s super-sweet secret is out.