Welcome to Restaurant Laayoune, I hope you enjoy dining with us. Fouad Mouadi

Our Story

Restaurant Laayoune, a celebrated eatery in the heart of Essaouira commemorates 46 years serving authentic Moroccan cuisine.

In 1975 Mohamed Mouadi, a local schoolteacher and budding entrepreneur discovered a great spot in the Essaouira’s old medina for a restaurant, the site of a carpenter’s workshop was closing. He wanted to bring authentic Moroccan cuisine to the sleepy fishing village of Essaouira; back in 1975 Essaouira was a very laid-back fishing village and not the tourist mecca that it is today. Mohamed and his partner set about opening Restaurant Laayoune by recruiting Essaouira’s best Dada chefs (Traditional Moroccan Cooks) to create fantastic Moroccan home cooking. The grand opening was set for July of 1975 when the first patrons walked into the newly opened restaurant. Restaurant Laayoune has been serving classic Moroccan cuisine to Essaouira’s inhabitants and tourists ever since.

In 1979 Mohamed’s brother-in-law Abdelhay Drai bought out Mohamed’s partner establishing Restaurant Laayoune as a true family-owned eatery.

The following years Restaurant Laayoune grew from concept to acclaim and was widely praised for serving the best Moroccan fare in Essaouira. Earning rave reviews, in the Lonely Planet, Guide De Routard, and the Michelin Guide.

In 1992, at the height of its popularity Mohamed bought out his brother-in-law establishing himself as the sole owner. He dreamed of one day having his son Fouad take over the family restaurant. Fouad was quickly brought in to manage the restaurant, and when in 1997 Mohamed stepped down, Fouad took over as owner and manager.

With the Millennial fast approaching, youthful Fouad set about modernizing the restaurant to take it into the 21st century; with the fast-growing importance of TripAdvisor, Fouad reenforced and enhanced the restaurants core values. Dishing up Moroccan specialities created with the highest quality locally sourced, organically grown ingredients and all hand prepared with care and loving devotion of his long time 3 female Dada chefs. (Traditional Moroccan Cooks)

Fouad’s philosophy for running the restaurant and which imbues his managing style comes from enhancing all that is good in Moroccan culture and accepting only the best and truest meaning of Islam. He empowers women by giving them the sole responsibility for kitchens operations, he designed, and implemented refreshing social policies (that are a rarity in the business world of Morocco today) he pays above average wages, including sick pay, paid days off, and paid leave if needed, and he created a tip sharing program that ensures equal tips to all employees.

Restaurant Laayoune a hallmark restaurant in Essaouira. It has been in continual operation from 1975, (until the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when it temporally closed by order of the Moroccan King on March 15, 2020; it is set to re-open on July 15th 2021.

Fouad is a true hands-on manager and the consummate host, if you happen to dine at Restaurant Laayoune, you are likely as not to meet Fouad, who along with his wife Fatima-Zahra and 3 sons; Achraf, Mohamed Ali, Saad all welcome you to their family eatery in the heart of the medina in Essaouira.