HEAD TO HEAD: Dubai's Qbara from Jas Hospitality
We speak to the exec chef and general manager of Wafi's ME restaurant
What is unique about Qbara?
Colin Clague: Qbara has a wow factor — the design, the fixtures, the visuals are stunning. The menu is designed to reflect this. The food is prepared for sharing; it is perfect for this part of the world where family dinners are still the norm.
Barbara Marie: Qbara is a complete sensory experience. From the design element, the food, entertainment and genuine hospitality, you never want to leave. From our guests we hear there is really nothing like it in the world!
How do front-of-house and back-of-house complement each other?
Colin Clague: Firstly both Barbara and I agree there is no front-of-house/back-of-house. I know it sounds like a cliché but in an operation this big, everybody has to work for each other. So there is just Qbara: the kitchen has a duty to get the food right, the waiters have a duty to get it on the tables, make the guest experience exceptional and so on.
Barbara Marie: We are one restaurant with one goal and that is to bring the finest guest experience to all. Chef Colin and I are fully committed to building a team that embraces genuine hospitality and we do that together. There is no front-of-house or back-of-house, there is one house, and that is Qbara, where we welcome every guest and make them feel like it is their home.
How is the pricing policy justified?
Colin Clague: The main thing is everybody has a choice. It is possible to experience Qbara very reasonably; but if you want to celebrate lavishly there are high-end items like the Blackmore Wagyu beef whose quality comes at a premium.
Barbara Marie: Qbara is all about embracing our guests and allowing them to enjoy the experience they are looking for. We are not elitist; we want everyone to be able to enjoy an experience at Qbara from the simple to the lavish.
How will you insure that the restaurant is profitable?
Colin Clague: On my side, the main responsibility is making sure the food is of such quality that guests come back. A full restaurant is the best way to be profitable; food cost, wastage, ordering are meaningless if the restaurant is empty.
Barbara Marie: Our goal is to provide the finest guest experience with genuine hospitality. I have always been a believer that if you take care of your guests, your guests will take care of your business.
Biggest challenges you face?
Colin Clague: Qbara is a big restaurant, so the biggest challenge will be filling it. It is uniquely designed, so even though it is a large space it is still very intimate. From a kitchen point of view the biggest challenge is coming up with dishes that are well-known and popular in this part of the world, and giving them a new Qbara take. I’m sure some people will love it and some will be aghast!
Barbara Marie: Qbara is a large venue and the challenge is that we need lots of guests. Therefore, we need to reach both the local community and visitors to Dubai to make sure that we are at the top of their list when they are deciding where to go. But we have a wonderful menu with many options, and we offer something for everyone.
What does the future hold for Qbara?
Colin Clague: I see a brand that could be rolled out in other countries, as Middle Eastern/Levant food is universally popular. It is for this reason we spent a long time on training in the hope that some staff will open other Qbaras in the future.
Barbara Marie: The future of Qbara is to see a branded concept to take internationally to London, New York, Hong Kong and beyond. Our team is amazing and we are very fortunate.