As new luxury lobby lounge Aspen by Kempinski Dubai Mall of the Emirates sets out to compete with the popular and numerous mall cafes, its F&B manager and executive chef reveal its secret weapons...

What is unique about Aspen by Kempinski?

Andreas Magnus, F&B manager answers our focus has been on luxury and detail. We wanted to bring the European tradition of the “Grand Cafe” to the hotel in a concept that would blend well with the versatility of the F&B offering in the adjacent Mall of the Emirates. Through the use of bone china and silverware and a food offering which has been carefully crafted, we have been able to establish an outlet that sits somewhere between a fine dining restaurant and a luxury lobby lounge.

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Sudqi Naddaf, executive chef answers everything has been very carefully selected, from the cutlery and crockery to the beverages and food dishes. The team has done a lot of research and we had several people with different styles and tastes test the various aspects of the outlet. The design of the outlet stands out from our other outlets. Aspen by Kempinski is extremely modern and eye catching, perfect for a luxury lobby lounge in such a central place in the hotel.

How do front of house and back of house support each other?

Andreas Magnus answers we believe that the left and right hand have to be in synergy in order for the final product to be balanced, and the guest experience will reflect this. We are each other’s best supporters and advisors and that attitude and mentality flows down to our teams. Communication and teamwork are key.

Sudqi Naddaf answers the design of the outlet is such that the front and back of house areas are very close to each other making communication easy. This fosters teamwork and creates a friendly and professional environment for employees to work in, which in turn ensures customer service is smooth.

Let’s talk money

Andreas Magnus answers in developing an outlet like this, the investment made demands a certain return. But you need to look at your competitive set when it comes to pricing. Here, that is everything from five star hotels to the local mall-based cafe, you have to balance your prices with the value perception of your audience.

Sudqi Naddaf answers we studied our food offering and portion sizes to ensure we were offering good value for money. We serve generous portions and use high-end quality ingredients. Pricing is always a challenge and is an important decision for a new outlet. We’re confident our pricing is fair yet competitive.

How will you ensure your outlet is profitable?

Andreas Magnus answers by balancing the menu mix, incentivising the high yielding items on both the beverage list as well as the menu and to flexi-share staff throughout the operation. Also, ensuring you have qualified well-trained staff minimises the need for labour as efficiency increases.

Sudqi Naddaf answers by making sure we provide great quality food and outstanding service to our guests. We continuously strive to keep our offering fresh and in tune with the preferences of our guests and do this through regular promotions for example.

What are the biggest challenges you foresee?

Andreas Magnus answers having sufficient storage space, potential breakage of expensive equipment and maintaining consistency in product and service as staff changes and volumes increase are the biggest challenges I expect.

Sudqi Naddaf answers we as chefs are always looking for perfection which takes time while our front of house colleagues are looking to provide quick and smooth service to our guests. The challenge is finding a careful balance.

What does the future for Aspen look like?

Andreas Magnus answers bright! We launched an awareness campaign and so far the feedback has surpassed expectations. There is room in the mall for a luxury product.

Sudqi Naddaf answers I believe Aspen by Kempinski is a truly unique concept and has the potential to be one of the best lobby lounges in the Middle East.