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Sun 1 Apr 2007 05:40 PM

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A new slant on old favourites

Ali Fatehnezhad, director of food and beverage at the Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, talks about the challenges of taking charge at some of Dubai's best-known outlets.

What impact has the changeover from InterContinental to Radisson had on the different outlets and how have customers reacted?

The customers were mainly concerned that the restaurants might be changed somehow, following the handover, and were enquiring about this even before October 1 last year, which was the first day that the hotel operated under Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek management.

We had the chance to inform everyone that the restaurants would all stay, as would the Chef De Cuisine of each restaurant and all of their respective teams.

That was exactly what happened and the guests have been very pleased that all their favourite restaurants are still under one roof and that there is consistency, in the quality of food and service, and of course to see all of the familiar faces greeting them in the various restaurants and bars.

I would say that the only impact the changeover has had on the various outlets has been a positive one - that nothing changed, and the only plans for the outlets so far is to enhance and further strengthen their existing products.

What changes have you made to the different outlets?

We opened Sumibiya, a Japanese barbeque restaurant, last year. This introduced a new concept to the city - the ‘yakiniku concept'.

We are also currently looking to maximise the potential of our outdoor leisure facilities in terms of F&B service, focusing on the poolside terrace area, which is a large sundeck area overlooking the creek - a perfect venue for sundowners.

Who are your main target markets for each of the outlets?

With 16 different F&B outlets, we have quite a nice mixture of clients, varying from business, mostly during lunch, and primarily leisure guests for dinner. There is also a proportion of in-house guests, of course.

The majority of our clients are definitely repeat customers, since many of our outlets are very well established in Dubai.

For example, the Fish Market, our award-winning seafood restaurant, has been in the market for 18 years, and Shabestan, our Iranian restaurant, has been around for 15 years.

As a result, these restaurants have built up a very loyal clientele of resident expats and UAE nationals. Even tourists that stay in other hotels have heard about our restaurants.

How are you promoting all your different outlets?

Customers have become loyal to the hotel as an F&B destination as it has a lot of their favourite restaurants under one roof.

Each outlet is marketed differently, but it's the destination that we mainly promote, as offering different flavours for everybody.

A lot of people have grown up with our outlets here in Dubai and I think they have become the best promoters for us.

How do you see the restaurant market in Dubai developing in the future?

Restaurants in general are becoming more of an experience rather than just a dining option for the majority of people. This means that the demand for different restaurant concepts in the region has been well catered to, and this is especially true in Dubai, where a lot of concepts have been covered.

What do you think will be key food and beverage trends for 2007?

In my opinion, the trend is going towards franchised restaurants from the Middle East and internationally.

What are the major challenges of working in the Dubai market?

It's definitely sourcing supplies and hiring and training staff.

It's very important to be selective during the hiring process, and also during the purchasing process for goods and supplies.

There has to be a marriage between the restaurant concept, the staff working in it, and the culinary experience to be able to cater to the authenticity of each outlet or concept.

What do you think the future will hold for your outlets?

We plan to build on core business through innovation and flexibility.

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