Italian family restaurant brand BiCE will add at least four restaurants to its Middle East portfolio in 2011, its executive vice president and chief operating officer revealed in an exclusive interview with Caterer Middle East.
Raffaele Ruggeri, the grandson of BiCE founder Beatrice Ruggeri, said: “Bahrain is opening in mid-February. We are opening Muscat in mid-September. We are opening in Cape Town in July and before that, opening in Amman, Jordan.
“One restaurant that we are in the middle of closing is at the Hilton Pyramids in Cairo, which is a beautiful resort. We are pretty much signed with them, so that will open in 2011 too,” said Ruggeri.
The Muscat restaurant will be located in a “small, very high-end shopping centre” attached to the opera house currently under development, while in Bahrain, BiCE will be in the World Trade Centre.
All the new outlets will be the high end BiCE brand, although Ruggeri said there has also been demand from the region for the more casual Café Milano by BiCE operation.
He said that while demand for casual dining was growing in the region, BiCE was not ready for major expansion.
Ruggeri explained: “We have been very fortunate because until today we have never looked for a location, location has always come to us. We are a family business, we are not a big corporate looking to expand or bring x amount of growth to the books every year. We really do it as it comes along.
“This year we have already six restaurants here [in Middle East, Africa and Asia], two in the US, and three or four more we’re negotiating. We’re quite busy.
We’ve had some discussions to take the Café Milano by BiCE all over Saudi Arabia and we are kind of stopping that because we are not really ready to set up there. That’s the main product they want to bring forward; Kuwait is the same.. This is a segment that is definitely becoming stronger in this part of the world.”
The new outlets will join BiCE’s existing operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Doha and Beirut.
The Beirut outlet opened in August 2009 and is “flying” said Ruggeri, adding that it was set to take BiCE at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah’s top spot as the highest performing restaurant in terms of revenues in the region.
For a full interview with Raffaele Ruggeri, see the February issue of Caterer Middle East.