F&B Focus: The grill meisters
The insiders behind DXB Grill elaborate on the multi-dimensional positioning of Millennium Airport Hotel, Dubai’s latest restaurant
It is obvious when walking into Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai’s restaurant DXB Grill that this is no regular steak and seafood hotel restaurant.
While the glass-encased grill kitchen housing its industrial-size rotisserie is what greets guests outside the restaurant entrance, as soon as one steps into the restaurant, the expansive array of seafood and sushi as well as the glass-enclosed tandoor kitchen are immediately front and centre in one’s line of sight.
Sarin Monish, Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai’s assistant F&B manager, affirms DXB Grill’s differentiation.
“The positioning of DXB Grill is quite unique,” he says. “It’s not entirely a steakhouse but we do have speciality steaks. In addition, we have amazing sushi and great seafood offerings as well as tandoor dishes.”
“We positioned it according to the way Dubai dines,” Monish explains. “When Dubai dines out, the main reason is usually for steaks; the second main reason is for sushi and the third one is for Indian food. We put it all together and kept the best of all worlds with DXB Grill.”
Well aware that Dubai’s restaurant dining patrons, spoiled with the glut of offerings in the city vying for their share of wallet, Monish is determined in implementing small yet distinctive touches which he hopes will make the DXB Grill experience stand out in customers’ minds.
“My service philosophy is that the food can be good, the service can be good but the experience has to be great. When you go to a hotel, you always expect the food to be good. You expect the service to be good. Nowadays with the number of hotels and restaurants that we have in Dubai, if your service is good, your food good, then you are just run-of- the-mill F&B operation,” Monish says.
He adds: “There needs to be a deciding factor, wherein there is something that the guest can remember and make them decide to go back, where they can say, ‘this is what I experienced at DXB Grill at Millennium Airport Hotel.’”
“For example, in all Dubai restaurants where you can order a steak, you’ll find salt and pepper on the table and that’s what you get. Whereas here, you’ll find six different types of salt that we offer to guests. And the guests are like, ‘ok, let me try a little bit of each.’ So that elevates the experience for the guest.
The way we serve the beef chunks is another example. We serve it on a sword. How many times do you see meat being served on a sword?”
The need to differentiate – and the drive to elevate DXB Grill as more than just a grill restaurant – is echoed by Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai executive chef Winfried Helmetag, who has embedded his own personal culinary philosophy into the outlet’s back-of- house operations.
“I do believe in fresh cooking. I believe in quality and I also believe in cooking using as little as possible of manufactured, processed spices. I would rather prefer using natural things,” says Helmetag,when commenting on his culinary philosophy.
“The more natural, the more plain ingredients you use, the more flavours you get out of your food,”
Helmetag continues. “Translating this over to DXB Grill, it’s very simple. It’s a grill restaurant that is also serving tandoor and serving sushi. In this setting, we are using the ingredients to let the flavours speak for themselves.”
“With DXB Grill, we want to be seen not just as a normal grill or simply a grill restaurant. We are offering ‘world cuisine’,” he asserts.
In alignment with the diversity in food offerings comes a flexibility in service models, thereby leveraging the utilisation rate of the restaurant’s 82-capacity space, an indicator on both Helmetag and Monish happily collaborate.
“We need to keep working to find distinctive functions for this restaurant, so that means not only offering à la carte service but being able to give a good deal to people who would like to have functions in DXB Grill. These can be private events but also more individually designed functions because the restaurant has a [12-seater] private room and is big enough to have separate functions yet still have privacy as well,” Helmetag says.
As for Monish, as the one who is ultimately accountable for the restaurant’s bottomline, he and Helmetag seem to be completely aligned with regards to goals, a fortuitous situation for DXB Grill and, consequently, for Millennium Airport Hotel, Dubai.
“With Dubai being social media crazy, I want DXB Grill to be ranked in the top 10 restaurants in top social media sites, like TripAdvisor and Zomato,” he says.
“This is definitely something I’m working on and taking up a big chunk of time since it is the operations team who impact the reviews and I believe this will help bring in a lot of guests. It’s a big challenge for my team but we are working on it.”
Monish’s second aim for DXB Grill aligns perfectly with Helmetag’s vision of multiple service models leading to increased utilisation. “We need to increase our capacity and utilisation towards 70%. We’d love to achieve 100% but I would say 70% is more of a realistic figure, for the first year of operation.”
With Helmetag and Monish skillfully masterminding the scenes both in back- and front-of-house at DXB Grill, and assuming all goes well in materialising the objectives outlined, the restaurant seems to be well positioned to be a significant contributor to the F&B department’s and, subsequently, to the overall hotel’s bottomline.
“With percentage of revenue, I would say we’re looking at contributing towards 20% of total hotel F&B revenue,” Monish beams.