By Jola Chudy
Two Dubai F&B execs explain how they plan to adapt their approach to deal with the new normal.
Charlie Weaving, managing partner, and Joao Serio, director of operations, of Dubai-based LIVIT Hospitality Management, offer their thoughts on the future of Dubai's F&B industry and how they plan to adapt their approach to deal with the new normal.
How can brunches be adapted to offer enjoyable post-lockdown experiences that adhere to social distancing measures?
CW: A brunch is essentially just another busy daytime restaurant experience, so restaurants should be able adapt accordingly and create enjoyable experiences on a day-to-day basis, no matter what the time of day or circumstances are. Hence, a brunch should be no different. While it’s true that, traditionally, most brunches have big buffets, there are also some excellent brunches based on à-la-carte menus, 8-course tasting menus, etc., and I that’s how things are going to be moving forward.
JS: I believe the all-you-can-eat food stations and buffets will be dropped by bars and restaurants, for the foreseeable future at least. It’s exciting to see a new era of brunching being ushered in, which will finally see a shift away from the all-you-can-eat-and-drink mentality. The focus will now move to quality.
How can Dubai’s F&B industry evolve to deal with a very new set of demands, as people adjust to the new normal?
CW: We need to think completely outside the box and do things that we’ve never done before, including at-home experiences. If you’ve got a venue, but you can’t generate the revenue you’re used to, then you’re forced to think, “How can we create extra revenue streams?”
You also need to bear in mind that customers will remain cautious, even after the pandemic has passed. They’ll want to have their personal space, but still have the option to celebrate with friends.
So, why not take the experience to them? Send a couple of waiters and chefs to their house and recreate the kind of vibe they want. If they’re missing the beach-club vibe, then set up the at-home brunch around their pool. Alternatively, if it’s a high-end experience they’re looking for, then give them that level of service around their own dining table.
JS: We’re lucky that the Dubai F&B and hospitality scene is set in a country with beautiful weather, which enables restaurants, bars and other outlets to concentrate on outdoor spaces. Once restrictions are eased further, F&B businesses with spacious outdoor areas can provide safe settings that allow guests to social distance, while still benefiting from upbeat vibes and an appealing atmosphere.
Do you believe the UAE is better equipped than other countries to deal with the restrictions of a post-lockdown and post-pandemic world?
CW: Yes, I believe the UAE is better equipped to deal with restrictions, because we’re a small country, so we can adapt quickly to situations, and we’ve proved that in the past. We’re a strong country with a fantastic fighting spirit, full of residents with an immense collective pride in our F&B industry. In fact, I believe we have the best hospitality and F&B offerings in the world. We have the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best beach clubs, and the best nightclubs, which put us at the top of the tree.
JS: As the UAE is such a well governed country with entry points limited to two airports at the moment, the government is able to effectively monitor and control the situation without having to fully close its borders. This, combined with an excellent healthcare system and its ability to reinvent itself, definitely puts it at the top of the list of countries that can swiftly emerge from this pandemic, stronger.
What gives you confidence in The Bungalow’s ability to adapt and thrive over the coming months, as lockdown measures are eased?
CW: Even though The Bungalow is an outdoor venue, we’ve got great cooling solutions, along with a lot of space, so we’re able to spread guests out across the venue but still deliver a memorable F&B experience.
JS: Having a strong partner in Meraas and a beautiful outdoor location at La Mer, together with a team of experts who constantly look for ways to excel, makes me confident that we will be ready to not only cope with the restrictions, but also provide excellent experiences.