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Thu 2 Aug 2007 04:53 PM

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Stand alone first for The Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton Company is poised to open its first ever standalone restaurant.

The Ritz-Carlton Company is poised to open its first ever standalone restaurant.

If successful, the Al Mahara and Al Dana seafood restaurant concept, which will open at the Ritz-Carlton-managed Sharq Village & Spa in Doha, Qatar later this month, could be rolled out in other hotels and locations, according to the resort's food and beverage director, Ayman Gharieb.

"This is a first for The Ritz-Carlton; initiating a concept from A to Z and running a restaurant as a separate business. It could be used as a model for further outlets, like the Jumeirah Group has done with the Noodle House," he said.

"The restaurant will even have its own entrance and valet parking, so diners need not walk through the hotel. We also have our own reservations system."

Ambiance and location are also key selling points of this two-story outlet - it has been built on the beach and offers the option to dine outside where the lapping of the waves reinforce the diner's experience of sampling fine seafood.

Both Al Mahara and Al Dana will be branded and marketed as standalone outlets.

The former, located on the ground floor, is a fish-market style concept, where sushi and seafood will be on display and the dining experience is casual.

The latter, located upstairs and offering ocean views, has been dubbed "elegant dining" as opposed to fine dining, which is a term Ritz-Carlton management are keen to ditch as their new brand standards shun the hotel group's former reputation for stiffness in favour of a more "casual elegance".

This is evermore paramount at Sharq, a resort property built in the style of a Qatari village and souk and which oozes authenticity throughout, food and beverage outlets included.

Enhancing this authenticity is the background to the Sharq site's history, as the property has been built where a pearl diving village once stood.

Chef de cuisine, Shahram de Contades, will take the helm at Al Mahara and Al Dana and will source fish from prime locations across the globe, including the South of France, Canada, and where possible, the Gulf.

Gharieb said the outlet would be the "first real seafood restaurant in Doha", as other restaurants tended to offer seafood as just one element of their international cuisine offering.

Al Mahara, which is also home to a casual bar area, is expected to attract banqueting business and future plans include employing a DJ to spin some mellow tunes on the boardwalk outside.

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