Women to Watch: "Failure and Giving up is Never an Option," Believes Christine Samandari of L'Opera
Women to Watch:

Christine Samandari’s story began in early 1970s as a young researcher in sociology and anthropology, and not just that today she is a baker, an author and good successful restaurant owner. “It is both rewarding and humbling. Rewarding since you feel the satisfaction of every entrepreneur who can witness the results of years of hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, innovation, large investments and witness a dream come true,” she shared by adding that when you see the happiness and gratitude of over 1000 customers who each day demonstrate their appreciation of what our family has created together with the hundreds of L’Opéra collaborators. It is interesting to note that some 90% of our daily business is interacted by repeat customers. Read her journey in India as a bakery brand.

What was some of the hurdles that came on the way?

All those that any new venture in India has to overcome plus some very specific ones which are associated with our line of business: identifying and training suitable staff; securing a reliable flow of highest quality raw materials and ingredients; finding creative solutions to face extreme climatic conditions prevailing in Delhi such as high and low temperatures, extreme humidity and almost dry weather depending on the season; regulations concerning the circulation of refrigerated vehicle in Delhi NCR; ensuring the highest standards of quality and consistency of products and services we need to deliver day after day, just to name a few.

What has kept you going?

Total commitment to the objectives we set for ourselves and for the company; considering that failure and giving up was never an option; the continuous encouragement of our customers and patrons and not to forget the unfailing support of the French institutions particularly the Embassy of France through its successive ambassadors.

What’s your plan expanding the brand to other cities/country?

I know that everyone and every brand wishes to expand and so do we, however, we do not want this to come at the expense of our quality and reputation. This means that we are very mindful of how, where and when we expand. For the next 12 months, we are mainly concentrating on Delhi NCR, which is our home market without neglecting the investigations and preparations for opening new geographies. We already have 4 new outlets in the works as we speak.

Tell us about your other businesses and brand.

Our business is both simple and complex. We are in the business of providing an authentic French experience of bakery and pastry products and creating the “salon the thé” (tearoom as one would translate in English) environment and products. This entails serving light French meals in addition to bakery and pastry products.
As everything French, it is never just about food but also the elegance, chic, class, aesthetics and experience which transports our customers to the heart of France and Paris for as long as they are in any of our outlets or are savouring our products in the comfort of their homes.


As to our other activities, my husband Kazem who is an engineer by training with decades of professional experience, advises technology start-ups in their quest for developing their businesses and opening new markets, particularly in Asia, the Far East as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

5 tips you would want to share with fellow women restaurant owners

It is never about gender alone, but women entrepreneurs have an advantage over most of their male colleagues since they have a stronger intuition, more compassion, higher endurance, are often more detail-oriented and can use their soft power. They are more used to facing and solving problems, are usually better in communicating with others and less inclined to controversy and confrontation and more open to listening and cooperation.
So, my fellow women restaurant owners should never doubt themselves, they should apply sound business and management concepts and practices and then work hard, hard and hard with determination and passion to realise their goals and dreams.

Top Trends that you foresee.

The café culture which L’Opéra pioneered over a decade ago will no doubt become more and more popular in India as lifestyles change and professionals as well as other segments of the society experiment with more modern and Western-style habits. Gradually, customers will look for higher and higher quality products and will come to distinguish between the authentic and the lookalikes…

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