Will outdoor venues be the new post-pandemic trend?

Charlie Weaving and Joao Serio of Livit Hospitality Management discuss how the future of F&B may look

Charlie Weaving and Joao Serio
Charlie Weaving and Joao Serio

As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, and businesses in Dubai begin to take tentative steps towards getting back on their feet, bars and restaurants are having to quickly adapt to what promises to be a very different F&B landscape and a new version of normal.

Unlike previous summers, the majority of Dubai’s residents will remain in the city due to global travel restrictions, which means many bars and restaurants could see a big increase in demand during June, July and August. Nevertheless, this increased demand will come with its fair share of T & Cs, as social distancing becomes the norm for the foreseeable future, forcing F&B businesses to drastically rethink their approaches. Consequently, outdoor F&B venues with lots of space seem to be best equipped to deal with such changes.
The Bungalow, a popular beach bar and lounge situated on the south end of La Mer, is a prime example of such a venue. A seaside F&B destination with an expansive layout The Bungalow offers guests ample space, extensive outdoor air-conditioned facilities and endless stunning views. Since launching in November 2019, it’s fair to say that Mother Nature has thrown considerable challenges The Bungalow’s way in its first four months of operation, pre-lockdown.

From torrential rain to severe sandstorms, The Bungalow’s team has always made sure to plan ahead, think on their feet and effectively adapt to unforeseen circumstances. On top of overcoming all the usual obstacles of opening a new venue, they’ve faced their fair share of unusual ones too, and now they’re ready to become a home away from home for Dubai’s summertime residents.

Charlie Weaving, managing partner of Dubai based Livit Hospitality Management, the company behind The Bungalow, says, “It’s been an incredibly challenging time for our industry, and, unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot of causalities when this pandemic eventually subsides. When we opened The Bungalow, we were determined to create an accessible venue that provided value for money, while still offering a great F&B experience. We felt that the high-end sector in Dubai was getting more and more saturated, and people were looking for dining and social experiences that were more casual and a less costly. That’s exactly what we’ve set about offering with The Bungalow.”

He adds: “Despite the challenges ahead, we’re looking forward to reopening, as we are fortunate enough that our venue is very spacious, so we’re still able to maintain a vibe that people can look forward to, compared to smaller, indoor restaurants or bars. We’re ready to adapt to whatever the new norm is.

Moreover, we feel that when we come out the other side of all of this, The Bungalow team will be stronger and even better equipped to deal with the new demands that come with a post-lockdown market. People who have faced pay-cuts aren’t looking for the luxury, high-end venues they sought before the pandemic; they want fun and enjoyable F&B experiences that don’t break the bank. That’s where we believe the market is going in Dubai, and that’s why The Bungalow will thrive.”

Joao Serio, director of operations at Livit Hospitality Management, comments, “I believe Dubai’s F&B industry is facing its most challenging period yet. With businesses struggling to survive right now, unfortunately, a lot of companies will have to close down in the coming months. Thankfully, we are extremely confident that, once the restrictions are lifted, our venues will be ready to go from strength to strength, and F&B in Dubai will thrive once again.

He continues, “Now is the right time for companies to review and reshape their policies, and, even though many challenges lie ahead, I believe the companies that effectively adapt how they do business will emerge stronger from this. It’s going to be tough, adapting to the new normal, and venues will have to rapidly adjust, but the LIVIT team is fully prepared. We are taking all the necessary precautions in anticipation of what comes next and making sure we are equipped to reopen when given the go-ahead.”

About the authors
Weaving and Serio are managing partner and director of operations respectively at Livit Hospitality Management. Based in the emirate of Dubai, the company provides management services to lifestyle hospitality brands, helping them bring homegrown concepts to fruition.

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