Eren Ongurlar — The Mastermind Behind Hafiz Mustafa’s Sweet Triumph
In the world of confectionery, where tradition meets innovation, Eren Ongurlar stands as a pioneering figure. As the driving force behind Hafiz Mustafa 1864, he’s not only upheld the brand’s century-old legacy but also propelled it into the global spotlight. With a passion for flavors and a knack for innovation, Eren Ongurlar has taken Hafiz Mustafa to new heights. In this exclusive interview, we delve into his journey, challenges, and vision for the future of Hafiz Mustafa 1864.
Mr. Ongurlar, you have played a pivotal role in Hafiz Mustafa’s expansion within Turkey and internationally, including establishing branches in Dubai and London. Could you share some insights into the challenges and triumphs you’ve experienced during this global expansion journey?
Expanding Hafiz Mustafa within Turkey and internationally has been a notable journey, filled with its share of challenges and triumphs. When we ventured into Dubai in 2019, we encountered the challenge of introducing a brand deeply rooted in Turkish culture to a diverse and cosmopolitan audience. It required solid positioning and planning to adapt our desserts while preserving their authenticity. We focused on understanding local preferences without compromising our quality. The opening of the Dubai Mall branch was a significant triumph, and we are proud of the warm reception our desserts received from Dubai’s residents and visitors. I would also like to highlight the advantages: Hafiz Mustafa boasts decades of international recognition and respect, a pivotal factor that has undoubtedly been advantageous for us.
The decision to establish a branch in London also brought its unique challenges. London’s dessert scene is vibrant and competitive, making it essential for us to stand out while respecting the city’s diverse culinary landscape. Rebuilding Hafiz Mustafa’s centuries of recognition has been an ongoing journey, and we are optimistic about the opportunities this expansion presents.
In Dubai and London, the key to our success has been our promise of unparalleled quality and tradition. We have worked to ensure that every Hafiz Mustafa branch delivers the same centennial taste and experience that our loyal customers have come to expect. While these international expansions have been demanding, they have also been immensely rewarding, allowing us to share our rich heritage and desserts with a global audience.
Hafiz Mustafa is known for its commitment to tradition and quality. How do you balance preserving the brand’s heritage and introducing innovation to meet evolving consumer tastes?
Preserving Hafiz Mustafa’s heritage while maintaining innovation has always been at the forefront of our strategy. We view tradition as the foundation of Hafiz Mustafa, and it’s something we hold dear. At the same time, we know the importance of adapting to changing consumer preferences. To strike this balance, we invest heavily in research and development. We are continually exploring new flavors, ingredients, and techniques that can complement our traditional offerings. This approach allows us to introduce innovative products that resonate with modern tastes while maintaining the essence of Hafiz Mustafa.
Whether sourcing the finest ingredients or adhering to time-honored preparation methods, we ensure that every product reflects the excellence that defines our brand. Innovation, for us, is about enhancing the customer experience while remaining true to our centennial heritage.
We actively engage with our customers and listen to their feedback. This helps us understand their evolving preferences and tailor our offerings accordingly. By combining tradition, quality, and innovation, we sustain that Hafiz Mustafa remains a beloved brand that can adapt to the ever-changing culinary landscape.
In the confectionery world, our commitment to tradition is as steadfast as our pursuit of innovation. At Hafiz Mustafa, we believe in crafting desserts that resonate with the hearts of our customers. Our desserts tell the story of past generations and anticipate the desires of future generations. Each creation is a blend of heritage and invention, a testament to the enduring power of flavor. Together with our team and the love of our customers, we are building a sweet legacy that transcends borders and time.
Avni, Eren, Emre Ongurlar
Hafiz Mustafa 1864 | Centennial Desserts
Ala sauce, invented by Eren Ongurlar
Hafiz Mustafa 1864 | Centennial Desserts
Could you tell us about your role in developing new flavors and products at Hafiz Mustafa? Are there any particular creations you’re incredibly proud of?
I have a deep passion for gastronomy, and it’s a pleasure to combine that with my role at Hafiz Mustafa. One of the inventions I am particularly proud of is the Ala sauce, which has received global acclaim. Ala sauce seamlessly integrates with our traditional desserts, enhancing their flavors and elevating the overall taste. In addition to the Ala sauce, I have had the pleasure of introducing several unique Turkish coffee varieties to our menu. The Coffee Anatolia with mesir paste, Golden Coffee with saffron, and Alaturca Coffee with salep have all been well-received by our customers. These coffee innovations have allowed us to offer our patrons something distinctive and culturally rich.
I have also been actively involved in the production of Ottoman Kadayifs, where we have worked to create a delightful twist on a classic treat. Like many others, Ottoman Kadayifs reflect our promise to explore new tastes while staying true to the traditions that have defined Hafiz Mustafa for over a century.
My role in developing these new flavors and products is driven by a desire to surprise and delight our customers while preserving the receipts of our ancestors. It is about finding that perfect balance between tradition and innovation, a challenge I wholeheartedly embrace.
You have an active role in branding and marketing at Hafiz Mustafa. Can you elaborate on some innovative strategies and projects you’ve implemented to promote the brand and its products?
Indeed, branding and marketing play an essential role in shaping the image and perception of Hafiz Mustafa. Our dedicated team of brand directors and professionals work diligently to keep our brand strong and relevant in today’s dynamic market.
I oversee the final branding touches to align with our company’s positioning. This attention to detail in our branding and marketing efforts has allowed us to maintain our legacy while adapting to the ever-changing consumer preferences and expectations landscape.
One of the innovative strategies is attention to detail in all aspects of Hafiz Mustafa’s presentation. From the service plate to the store decor, from the music playing to the aroma in our shops, we draw inspiration from Ottoman and Seljuk culture. This experience is designed to transport our customers to different times and places, enhancing their overall visit to Hafiz Mustafa.
We also know the significance of social media in today’s digital age. With a strong presence on social platforms, we have been able to engage with our customers on a more personal level. Our social media efforts are designed to showcase our delectable offerings and tell the story of Hafiz Mustafa, including its rich history and cultural significance.
We pay special attention to each customer, ensuring that even during busy times, they receive a warm and welcoming experience. This approach is a fundamental part of our brand strategy.
Golden Coffee, crafted by Eren Ongurlar
Hafiz Mustafa 1864 | Centennial Desserts
Hafiz Mustafa 1864 | Dubai Mall Branch
Hafiz Mustafa 1864 | Centennial Desserts
Maintaining quality is a cornerstone of Hafiz Mustafa’s identity. Could you shed light on the measures and processes to ensure consistent taste and excellence across all branches in Turkey and abroad?
Maintaining consistent quality across all Hafiz Mustafa branches, whether in Turkey, UAE, or the UK, is paramount to us. It’s a commitment we take very seriously, and we have several measures and processes to keep this standard of excellence.
First and foremost, we do not compromise on the quality of our ingredients. We source the finest raw ingredients, whether the pistachios from the Nizip region for our baklava or the buffalo milk for our dairy desserts. The authenticity of these ingredients is a non-negotiable aspect of our production.
Our loyalty to traditional methods is another critical element. We uphold time-honored techniques passed down through generations and ensure that our chefs and artisans are trained to maintain these methods consistently.
Quality control is integrated into every step of our production process. We employ innovative technologies to monitor and maintain the highest hygiene and quality standards. Our 3-phase quality control process guarantees that each product meets our stringent criteria before it reaches our customers.
Our commitment to sustainability and organic production goes hand in hand with quality. We avoid using preservative chemicals in our products, believing that organic production is about health, taste, and quality.
Importantly, we have a dedicated and passionate team of chefs and artisans who are deeply committed to upholding the legacy and traditions of Hafiz Mustafa. Their skill and dedication to perfection ensure that every dessert we bake, whether in Turkey, Dubai, or London, reflects the same consistent quality and taste that our customers expect.
We ensure that the knowledge and expertise of our team are consistently transferred to new generations. Our Hafiz Mustafa Academy, as mentioned earlier, plays a pivotal role in training the chefs who graduate with honors and carry forward our traditions.
Ultimately, quality is a non-negotiable and a core part of our identity. Whether enjoying Hafiz Mustafa in Istanbul, Dubai, or London, you can expect the same excellence and taste that has defined our brand for centuries.
Hafiz Mustafa’s reputation goes beyond borders. What strategies have you employed to establish brand recognition and trust in regions where it may have a different historical presence than in Turkey?
Establishing and expanding Hafiz Mustafa’s brand recognition and trust in regions where we may have a different historical presence than in Turkey is a significant endeavor. To achieve this, we have employed a multi-faceted strategy that combines authenticity, innovation, and local adaptation.
We leverage our commitment to tradition and quality. We proudly showcase our centuries of history and Hafiz Mustafa’s rich heritage. This historical legacy is a foundation upon which we build trust with our customers locally and internationally.
In addition to our historical significance, we embrace innovation. While we preserve traditional recipes and methods, we also understand the importance of adapting to local tastes and preferences. Our products like Anatolian Coffee with mesir paste, golden coffee with saffron, and Alaturca coffee with salep exemplify how we infuse innovation into our offerings while staying true to our roots.
Localization is another vital aspect of our strategy. We take the time to understand the cultural nuances, preferences, and dietary habits of the regions we expand into. This enables us to tailor our products and marketing to resonate with local sensibilities while maintaining our core identity.
We prioritize sustainability and organic production, which aligns with global trends and resonates with health-conscious consumers worldwide. This commitment enhances our appeal and reflects our responsibility to the environment and society.
Our strategy combines tradition and innovation, authenticity and localization, quality and adaptation. Building brand recognition and trust in new regions is a journey, and we are committed to continuously evolving and adapting to meet the unique demands of each market we enter.
Can you share your vision for the future of Hafiz Mustafa, including upcoming expansion plans and potential new product offerings?
The future of Hafiz Mustafa holds exciting prospects and ambitious expansion plans. Our vision is to continue growing and sharing the tastes of Hafiz Mustafa with even more people worldwide. As you have mentioned, we plan to expand our presence in several countries, including Germany, France, and the United States. These regions offer unique opportunities to introduce our rich heritage and exceptional desserts to diverse audiences. We aim to establish a strong foothold in these markets, much like we have done in Dubai and London.
By 2029, we envision a global presence with 45 branches worldwide. This expansion will be complemented by developing a sprawling manufacturing facility covering 40,000 square meters in Istanbul. This facility will enable us to meet the increasing demand for our products and reinforce our commitment to maintaining the highest quality standards.
In addition to our manufacturing facility in Istanbul, we have plans to set up 10 additional manufacturing locations. These strategic locations will allow us to produce our renowned desserts more efficiently and cater to the preferences of local markets.
Looking even further ahead, by 2029, we aspire to host 80 million delighted clients worldwide. This ambitious target is a testament to our commitment to continuous growth and innovation.
Regarding new product offerings, we constantly explore opportunities to expand our menu while staying true to our heritage. Our recent introductions, like Anatolian Coffee with mesir paste, Golden Coffee with saffron, and Alaturca coffee with salep, have been well-received, and we plan to continue innovating in this direction.
Our vision for Hafiz Mustafa’s future is global expansion and dedication to delighting customers with our timeless desserts. We are excited about the journey ahead and the opportunity to introduce the world to the magic of Hafiz Mustafa.
As a leader who values tradition while embracing innovation, what message would you like to convey to aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking to impact the confectionery industry?
To aspiring entrepreneurs and those eager to make a mark in the confectionery industry, I’d like to share a few essential insights that have guided our journey at Hafiz Mustafa.
Entrepreneurship in the confectionery industry, or any field, combines tradition, innovation, and commitment. Stay true to your roots, explore new horizons, and always put quality above all else. It’s a challenging but enriching journey, and I encourage you to embrace it with passion and dedication.
Understanding and profoundly appreciating your cultural heritage is fundamental. It provides a strong foundation for your brand and enables you to connect with your audience profoundly. Embrace your culture, flavors, and traditions, as they can set you apart in a crowded market. While practice is vital, innovation is equally important. Look for opportunities to breathe new life into traditional recipes and flavors. Be visionary and open to new ideas. Quality is non-negotiable. Never sacrifice it for any reason. Uphold the highest standards in your ingredients, preparation methods, and presentation. Consistency in taste and excellence is what builds trust with your customers.
Avoid Imitation. Imitation might bring short-term gains, but more is needed to achieve lasting success. Instead, focus on what makes your brand unique and authentic. Celebrate your distinctiveness, and customers will appreciate your genuine offerings. The journey of entrepreneurship has its challenges. Be prepared to face setbacks, and don’t let them deter you. Perseverance and resilience are vital qualities that will see you through difficult times.
Have a deep passion for what you do, and let that drive your commitment to excellence. Your enthusiasm becomes contagious when you genuinely love and share what you create with others.