Greg Malouf's Zahira shut down after just seven and a half months. Greg Malouf's Zahira shut down after just seven and a half months.

Restaurant closures happen all the time, and for many reasons. Some restaurants are so awful that they should be closed. Some seem to have all the right boxes checked and still can’t make it — like Moti Roti or even, arguably, Zahira.

Others, that seem to have deep, healthy roots with years of business behind them, also close down, perhaps unable to keep up with the constant market changes or unwilling to change themselves. Places like Round Table Pizza or Frankie’s, both having a respectable run of solid business, ultimately turned out the lights.

Some restaurants close despite being at the very top of their game. ElBulli could have operated for years to come; it had only 8,000 seats available, and yet had more than two million requests every year. However, Ferran Adria felt his elBulli “had completed its journey as a restaurant”.

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So, what makes a restaurant successful? It’s a difficult question and if anyone says they have all the answers they are probably lying. You can do a billion things right and overlook a simple U-turn sign on the street outside that means no-one ever comes in.

We all know that, unfortunately, many restaurateurs confuse concept with menu. A restaurant concept is not just a menu, some recipes and standard operating procedures. Rather, it covers a location, a marketing strategy, a service style, design, ambiance, price point, a defined position in its competitive set, and, equally as important as the food itself, a long-term strategy and commitment.

Stay tuned for the full story in Caterer Middle East's February 2018 issue.