Updated: Mar 22
Get to know woman entrepreneur Luma Makhlouf, co-founder of Maiz Tacos and proud mom of one. Luma set up the popular Dubai restaurant while pregnant and is now setting her sights on even greater business growth, all while raising her family.
Who is Luma Makhlouf?
I am originally Palestinian but was raised in Chicago and moved to Dubai about 11 years ago. I worked with tech startups where I loved learning all about different CRM solutions for businesses. Three years ago we dove head first into the F&B industry and haven’t looked back since.
Food has always been such a passion of mine that when I was a child I wanted to be a chef. That did not happen, but five years ago I did go to Culinary School (ICCA) here in Dubai. When I met my husband, we bonded over our love for the industry and started looking for a gap in the market. That’s when we decide to put all our savings into a Mexican food truck and make our dreams come true!
I grew up eating Mexican food on the regular. Tacos in the States are the shawarmas of the Middle East. So I was surprised there was not any authentic taqueria I could go to. I craved amazing, REAL, made-from-scratch, Mexican food. That’s when Maiz Tacos was born.
Being a woman entrepreneur
I am generally a very optimistic person, who believes you truly can have it all. So that was my attitude with setting up the restaurant while I was pregnant. I also had quite a high-risk pregnancy towards the end, but I just pushed through as much as I could. I am blessed to have a very strong, resilient mother who has been through a lot. She is my inspiration. If she could go through all of that and still remain positive and hopeful then I definitely can too.
The advice I would give to any pregnant woman or new mom, is that you should truly believe in any vision (big or small) you have and attempt to put all doubt aside and push through! With a bit of help and organization you really can accomplish anything you want. Go online and see what like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs are doing around the world. Drown out the noise, and feed your passion. Network with people you admire and strive to be like. Be prepared to struggle and remember that it's all a numbers game – the more work you put into it, the higher your ROI.
Going from a food truck, to a catering business, to a restaurant in such a short period and finally seeing it thrive is a huge achievement. There were so many times where I felt we hit a wall, but now seeing it flourish is what makes me so proud and excited for what is to come.
Looking back, however, I would have not bought a food truck. It is very expensive and is not a ‘must-have’ when getting into F&B. We could have potentially established the same impact by launching with a sexy kiosk as opposed to a food truck.
Impact of COVID-19
We implemented all the SOPs and requirements Dubai Municipality asked of us right away. We expanded our delivery suppliers and tried to talk to our customers as much we could. I drove around myself delivering food and DIY boxes to families. We wanted to survive this so we did everything we could to show our consumers that we were here and ready when the time was right.
We documented our every move to show them that we understood the sensitivity of the situation, but that we weren’t giving up and we are someone they can trust. Thank God they did trust us, that is why we are here today.
The next chapter
Maiz Tacos is flourishing and we are so excited at the growth of our brand, team and customer base! We are opening a new location soon. In the last few months we have actually opened two new brands – @GoodBurgerdxb and @Lumascakesdxb, and there's so much more coming soon.
This is what I mean, you really can have it all!