Stefan Breg, chief worrier of F&B strategy house Tribe Restaurant Creators. Stefan Breg, chief worrier of F&B strategy house Tribe Restaurant Creators.

The UAE restaurant scene is unjustifiably expensive, said Stefan Breg, chief worrier of F&B strategy house Tribe Restaurant Creators, at Gulfood in Dubai on Tuesday.

In a newly released report on the UAE’s casual dining sector, written in collaboration with foodservice consultancy Horizons, Breg and his team compared the price of menu items in the UAE with those offered by the same restaurant brands in the US and Europe.

“Many restaurant chains are charging 46% more in the UAE than they do for exactly the same menu item elsewhere in the world,” said Breg.

“This makes no sense. There is no sales tax here, and neither the rents nor the payrolls are substantially higher.”

With the average UAE restaurant bill for a family of four coming to 150–200 AED (US$40–55), Breg believes that a value-oriented restaurant which overtly traded on its value offering would be “in for a very good time.”

“There’s a gap in the market for a restaurant that offers people a $15 or $20 meal and actually tells people about its value offering, rather than it just being through a one-off voucher or promotion. It’s a huge missed opportunity.”

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Another gap in the market for F&B outlets identified by the report is casual dining restaurants that specialize solely in one particular ethnic cuisine, most notably Russian, Filipino and, of course, Emirati food.

Breg called for more UAE-local entrepreneurs to get in on the act:

“The UAE is full of these nationalities, but they are under-represented in the restaurant sector. It’s about time we saw some F&B outlets dedicated to these cuisines.”