The reality of creating restaurants

Large egos kill outlets, but what makes them great? asks Louise Oakley

ITP group editor - hospitality Louise Oakley
ITP group editor - hospitality Louise Oakley
ITP group editor - hospitality and editor of Hotelier Middle East Louise Oakley
ITP group editor - hospitality and editor of Hotelier Middle East Louise Oakley

Creating a restaurant brand and managing our own business is something many people dream of doing.

Ask most chefs or managers in the industry about their ambitions and nine times out of 10, they’ll say it’s to go it alone. I’ve even thought about it myself; what could be better than greeting guests at a chilled-out beach front café, encouraging them to take off their shoes and soak up the sunset as they pore over your intricate menu and succumb to the dulcet tones of the soft waves?

Luckily for us all, the soft sounds of my day dreams are soon replaced by the harsh bell of reality. The fact is, 90% of new restaurants fail worldwide. Oversized egos and undercapitalised projects are the biggest killers, as Okku Dubai co-founder Markus Thesleff tells us on page 20. As the man responsible for the restaurant that scored a record three Caterer Middle East Awards last month, his words are worth heeding.

If too much arrogance and not enough money can wipe out a restaurant business, what will make it succeed? I would suggest attention to detail, talented, empowered people and bucket loads of passion. A fantastic location, popular cuisine, convincing brand story and hefty marketing push can also help. I would argue that these are manifested, one way or another, at Tribes, Mall of Emirates Fashion Dome (pages 10-14).

In just one year, Tribes has managed to cement itself in the hearts of Dubai’s residents; its modern twist on African traditions reinventing the mall dining experience. Its success to date has been so impressive that the eatery snatched the title of Caterer’s New Outlet of the Year from established names like Gary Rhodes and the Burj Khalifa’s At.mosphere.

With Tribes now setting the bar for new casual dining brands, all eyes are on South African operator FoodFund International to see if it can raise standards even further.

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