Cup & Roll Rolls Out Its First Dine-In Outlet

There’s a reason I’ve followed the growth of Cup & Roll since day one. I love entrepreneurship. I think there’s nothing worse than wasted potential, and here was a seemingly simple, homegrown idea that fluttered with potential.

The story was classic: a kitchen-savvy housewife baked delicious treats for her family and friends, and anyone who sampled her edibles implored her to establish a business. Years later, it was her son and his best friend that decided to act on that fervor, transforming a homemade good into a sellable product that folks across greater Beirut have come to adore.

Ice cream cups are now on the menu in-store only

In the beginning it was called Pizza Cups. A special-recipe dough was spread thin inside muffin molds, and in each, a lick of tomato sauce and slew of fresh, high-quality ingredients were poured. In the trial phase, 30 different toppings were tested until nearly a dozen made the cut. 

But what started out as a modest home business soon outpaced the capacity of both kitchen and cook, so Pizza Cups paused its operation briefly to seek out partner investors, secure a central kitchen with proper facilities, hire and train a staff (of mothers), and undergo a brand transformation, relaunching as Cup & Roll in late 2014. Indeed, savory and sweet rolls were added to the menu, as were a handful of salads, fresh-squeezed juices, and roasted potato spears. The meal was now complete.

I was the first to publish an interview with one of the co-founders of Cup & Roll, and yet again the first to get my hands on the seasonal savors that debuted around Christmastime. Since then my friendship with the founding duo Khajag and Wassim has blossomed, and I've been rooting for their brick-and-mortar outlet since the day I learned of it.

An assortment of fresh out-of-the-oven savory cups

My all-time favorite: Chicken Pesto & Cheese

Years of vision and guided discipline finally culminated in the opening of the Cup & Roll shop five days ago. The restaurant, seating 20 comfortably, straddles both AUB and LAU geographically, nestled at the intersection of Hamra and Mahatma Gandhi streets. It boasts a modern interior with cylinder stools and compressed wood tables set along white-brick walls. Light is free to trickle in through the all-glass façade, and there is even a swivel window with extended windowsill for those who prefer to plant their perches outside.

Front door leads out to Mahatma Gandi Street: right is LAU, left is AUB

Modern lamps, white brick wall, and framed photos of the making of
cups and rolls in the kitchen

Day one, and the shop is already bustling with hungry guests!

The menu is true to the original, supplementing its dessert offering with ice cream. There’s a self-service fridge housing salads and drinks, and behind the counter, four staff members hustle between taking and filling orders.

Fresh homemade lemonade with shredded mint leaves

The Green & Orange salad tossed liberally in a tangy citronette

Together with the central kitchen in Zalka, which supplies ready-made dough and prepared ingredients to the Hamra shop daily, delivery is now assured from the northern-most area of Kaslik and Jounieh to the southern reaches of Ramlet el Bayda, Bir Hassan, and Ras el Nabaa. Standard business hours are between 8 a.m. and midnight, but specific to the month of Ramadan, hours have been adjusted to 10 a.m. - 2 a.m.

I have a feeling Cup & Roll is going to become all the rage with the teeming student population. An app is in the works to facilitate orders from the comfort of a smartphone—tap and transmit before class is out, then amble over to the shop to tuck into your meal immediately.

Best part? You’ll finally get to enjoy these savory cups and rolls piping hot. You thought they were good delivered, but wait till you gorge on them fresh out of the oven. I guarantee you’re gonna fall in love all over again.

Framed photo of the actual making of a signature roll

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