EXCLUSIVE: Dubai's Jumeirah launches RnB division

Hotelier leaves F&B behind to focus on creating restaurants and bars

Jumeirah Group senior vice president RnB Gert Kopera is leading the change at the Dubai hotel chain.
Jumeirah Group senior vice president RnB Gert Kopera is leading the change at the Dubai hotel chain.

Dubai-based luxury hotelier Jumeirah Group is pioneering a move away from traditional hotel food and beverage and instead focusing on creating and managing “highly innovative, desirable, market-driven restaurants and bars”, revealed the trio heading up new division, Jumeirah RnB.

Led by Jumeirah Group senior vice president RnB Gert Kopera, general manager operations food and beverage and managing director Jumeirah Restaurants Jason Myers, and Jumeirah Group corporate director culinary Christian Gradnitzer, Jumeirah RnB aims at establishing Jumeirah Group as “a leading operator of successful restaurants and bars” globally.

In an exclusive interview, Kopera told Hotelier Middle East: “The reason why we created RnB and went away from F&B is simple —because our focus is on restaurants and bars. It’s a restaurant experience, a bar experience, it’s not just serving food and beverage; it’s a distinct difference.

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“Restaurants are no longer an amenity to a hotel. They actually create the ambience, they are the face of the hotel,” he asserted.

All former F&B departments now report to the RnB division at Jumeirah, which is split into five pillars: Hotels; Restaurants; Innovation and Concept Development; Business Development: and Support.

The Restaurants division refers to specialised outlets that operate as free-standing restaurants and don’t necessarily need to belong to a hotel, explained Kopera.

Jumeirah RnB plans to develop restaurant brands which may be operated within its hotels in the UAE and globally, but which can also operate as standalone outlets or as outlets in hotels managed by other operators.

Critical to this approach are the people being recruited and trained within Jumeirah RnB, which Myers, who was ranked number one in the Caterer Middle East Power 50 2013, explained is committed to empowering staff.

“We worked on creating this amazing incentive scheme —you can literally earn double your salary. We believe in that, we believe in empowering people and there’s a real focus around empowerment F&B and ownership, whether that’s chef-led operations or GM-operated and we have really invested heavily into that,” he said.

“We are very determined...to get the right people in, not to manage them, but to give them the tools to deliver what makes a great brand restaurant,” added Gradnitzer.

Of all these people, one is particularly important; the person heading up each new restaurant, whether chef or GM.

Gradnitzer revealed: “The core differentiator of RnB... is we give a single point of responsibility in one restaurant”.

Two new concepts have already opened in Dubai under this model, with the potential to be rolled out.

Italian restaurant Alta Badia at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, which replaced Vu’s, is run by chef Claudio Melis, who used to run a two-Michelin-star restaurant in the food lover’s region of Alta Badia, Italy.

Tortuga, an authentic Mexican restaurant at Madinat Jumeirah, formerly operating as The Wharf, is headed by chef patron Carlos Hannon.

For a full interview with Kopera, Myers and Gradnitzer, see the February issue of Hotelier Middle East.

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