When the crowds say Bo
Retro charm aplenty at the Bo House cafe
Bo House café is reeling in the customers with its retro charm, says Harriet Sinclair
Front of house
It’s hard not to fall in love with Bo House. Set on the Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) in Dubai, the newly opened café looks more like it belongs in a bohemian cobbled street circa 1970 than next to the high rise apartments which surround it.
Other than its aesthetic charm — which comes complete with retro print chairs, funky floor patterns and a bookshelf in the shape of a tree — the staff who work there are as friendly as they come, and as I walk in the door I’m greeted by not one, but three smiling people.
It’s exactly this friendly atmosphere that keeps customers coming back, says Bo House operations manager Bouchaib Chafik — affectionately known by his colleagues as ‘Charlie’.
“We really wanted to create somewhere that people felt was a home from home –— somewhere you can come and sit with friends and enjoy the atmosphere, as well as the food.
“That’s why it is different to anything else you’ll find in town — it stands out from its peers on the Walk and is even different to all of the other concepts done by the company,” he continues.
The company he refers to is Pragma, which is responsible for Cavalli Club, The 400, and Epicure, among other outlets.
“Pragma is a great company,” says Chafik, “And we knew of each other for a while, so when they decided to open Bo House I was delighted to be involved.”
“With Bo House we knew we wanted to be individual, which is why we are on the opposite side of JBR walk to most of the other restaurants, and why we have decorated it in a style you won’t see anywhere else in Dubai.
“The best thing is that the style was created with an input from everyone involved in Bo House — so one person suggested the pattern for the chairs, another person the floor. It was a real team effort and it looks great,” he adds.
That Bohemian feel doesn’t stop at the design, however, as the staff reveal there will soon be a Bo House book club, local art on display and there are talks of starting a film club too.
With all these new additions and a genuinely warm atmosphere, Bo House is a modern-day Cheers bar, but with more colourful seating.
Back of house
If the front of Bo House is a customer friendly catch-all café, the menu is exactly the same. No country specific food concept or gimmicks here, just the assertion that it is “good food that people know, but with a twist.”
This good food comes in the form of croissants, calamari, milkshakes; you name it and it’s probably one of a range of tempting goodies on the menu — an attempt to provide a little something for everyone, whatever their taste.
“We wanted to be somewhere you could come in and have a pizza, or a salad, or a burger. You can go out with a friend who wants to eat something completely different from you and still both enjoy a great meal,” Chafik explains.
“Again, this is something you won’t find anywhere else, and it is about making people feel welcome — they can come here and enjoy whatever they want to eat, sit with their friends and feel able to stay for as long as they like,” he adds.
Not having a specific cuisine concept doesn’t seem to have affected the popularity of the place at all, as customers seem more than happy to have a wide range of choice — something Chafik says will continue as the menu changes regularly.
“We haven’t actually been open for that long, so we are still looking at which dishes are popular, which we should change or replace, and we will be doing that constantly as time goes on,” he enthuses.
The menu choices are currently decided on by Chafik and the kitchen team, so — in another nod to Bohemian ideals — everyone has an input.
Bo House breakdown
Where: JBR Walk, Dubai
What: Bohemian-style café
Best for: Relaxing with friends over a leisurely coffee — the chilled out atmosphere means you feel able to linger and the hours will slip away from you in the middle of the day.
Worst for: Staying on the diet. There are healthy options, but if you manage to avoid the chocolate milkshake and croissants, you’re a better person than me.