November 13, 2018 |
“Closed until further notice” is an all too frequently used phrase in the local hospitality scene. Four words that are familiar to anyone who has called Dubai home for at least two years, these often combine to create a sentence that attempts to hide the truth of yet another restaurant closure. Alas we are all too acquainted with the unforgiving turnover of venues across the city.
So, is there an all-telling secret handbook hidden somewhere in the depths of the desert that tells the aspiring entrepreneur the perfect method to launch a successful restaurant? I must apologise to be the bearer of unfortunate news, but it seems not. However, it cannot be overlooked that perhaps the ideal restaurant venture isn’t just located in the mind of the aspiring entrepreneur, or concealed somewhere out in that sandy landscape, but rather is a perfect mix of differing perspectives; that of the restaurateur, the chef and the designer.
A concept view
Dubai is no stranger to distinctive and exciting concepts right on our doorstep. In need of some culture and maybe a little hint of rum? Cuba doesn’t seem so far away at Cubano Lito in DWTC. Craving a bite to eat on the southern coast of Italy? Grab a seat at Scalini in Jumeirah. We are a community spoilt with choice. But the same choice that provides customers with this endless array of offerings, is the same choice in which cripples that aspiring entrepreneur. “What have I got to do to get noticed around here?” they scream.
A restaurateur is born from the birth of an idea. Based on that idea, the day of their venue launch becomes all they can think about – until the time comes when opening day is a matter of months away. This idea, or fantasy, that they have replayed in their heads more times than the annoyingly catchy Despacito, suddenly becomes a concrete reality – making the initial idea more complex than they had imagined.
“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
So while the restaurateur may be the one to start their venture, they, quite simply, will not make it a success if they go at it alone.
A food view
We have an idea. Great. A Peruvian restaurant. Excellent! The food turns out to seriously lack in flavour. No bright colours, no tingling of the taste buds, and where the hell can I order some ceviche?
Good chefs are completely passionate about food, and their expertise is integral to the success of any restaurant. But it isn’t just about a restaurant having to have a chef, it’s about their continuous involvement in the venue’s day-to-day operations. With the ever-increasing popularity of open kitchens and dining at the bar, the kitchen, and in turn the chef, become a showcase of the food, produce and production. This happens all before the customers’ eyes, creating an engaging form of hospitality and entertainment.
A restaurateur, in most cases, may not share the same love affair with food as their chef. Chefs need increased involvement and freedom to do what they know and love, and along with this we are now hosting engaged guests digging into their flavoursome ceviche with their eyes fixed upon the ongoing theatrics within the kitchen.
Yet, it is of the utmost importance to remember that it takes more than just good food to impress our knowledgeable guests; customers are searching for something memorable, something unforgettable.
When presented with both the idea and the food, the designer is able to carve the perfect dining experience. They become the manipulator of customer emotion.
“The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the process to ‘tidy up’ the mess, as opposed to understanding it’s a ‘day one’ issue and part of everything.”
The design of a restaurant should never be sacrificed. It is not only a key component of a restaurant’s success, but rather the solution that encompasses both perspectives of the restaurateur and the chef and brings them together in the form of a prosperous venture. Determining how the food is served, how many people can be served at a time, the atmosphere created, the visual journey, and the underlying narrative is left in the hands of the designer as they are left to explore space planning, furniture and aesthetics.
In the current blink-and-it’s-gone culture in the hospitality market that we have now accustomed ourselves to, these aforementioned individuals are being challenged to adopt a more original and creative approach than ever before. If they don’t, they face the disheartening “closed until further notice” sign on their doors, eventually leading to the abrupt end of their venture.
An exquisite blend of concept, food, and experience is vital to stay ahead of the game, and stand out in a competitive and unforgiving industry. This is the ideal recipe for success when venturing into the hospitality market.
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