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Mon 26 Nov 2018 11:47 AM

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F&B competition on Yas Island 'very weak', says hospitality firm

Formula 1 visitors are 'very limited' to F&B outlets on the island, according to Mansour Bin Jabr, despite restaurants making up to $1.6m during the three day race weekend

F&B competition on Yas Island 'very weak', says hospitality firm

4-Front Facilities is expanding its hospitality offerings on Yas Island to combat ‘very weak’ F&B competition in the famed destination which hosts the celebrated Formula 1 on its Yas Marina Circuit, according to company partner Mansour Bin Jabr.

The hospitality firm is the force behind sports bar Stars N Bars, Asian venue Mr Miyagi’s and English concept The Scene on Yas Island, with the latter scheduled to open soon. In a bid to increase footfall to the island, offer visitors more options and capitalise on tourists flying in for Formula 1, 4-Front Facilities is also opening Cuban-inspired concept Casa De Cuba this year.

“Yas Island offered us two locations next to Stars N Bars, which has been there for 10 years and is very successful. When I looked at it, I thought, I already have Stars N Bars. I want to create the footfall around it because the competition around it is very weak. Iris is taking most of the walk-ins and I’m taking the rest. There is nothing in between. So I thought, why not take the whole strip and capitalise on the whole area?” he said.

Jabr added that while visitors to the yearly Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi are “willing to spend” they are “limited with the outlet they can go to,” with Stars N Bars getting fully booked during the event.

The firm’s newest addition, Casa De Cuba, is scheduled to open on the island this year, followed by a Dubai Marina opening. It will feature bright interiors reminiscent of Cuban art and architecture.

“There’s nothing with a flair like that in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where you have a small band and someone rolling your cigars,” Jabr said, adding that Yas Island is in a league of its own when it comes to F&B in Abu Dhabi.

“I don’t consider Yas Island as Abu Dhabi. When I started in F&B, my first hit was Stars N bars. It was a desert, but I was lucky. I opened Cipriani and it was packed in the first few months. People were calling me crazy for spending AED70 million on a high end restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It was 2009. It was an empty marina and yacht club. I took the location and I used to beat Dubai numbers,” he said.

Today, Cipriani falls under Dubai’s Bulldozer Group, the company behind Seven Sisters, Scalini and Chef Izu Ani’s GAIA. Jabr had initially sold the Italian concept in a deal he “could not refuse”, before venturing into London concept and Mexican restaurant Peyote. The venue in DIFC closed down after less than two years in operation following a financial dispute with the owner.

But Jabr said he is not worried about business due to the ‘hit or miss’ nature of the F&B industry.

“If one doesn’t do well, the other three will. In F&B, you can’t hit 100%. If you do 80% that means you’re doing amazing. Nobody opens 20 outlets and they all work unless he’s a magician. Some of it is hit and miss. You’re going to close some and you’re going to win some,” he said.

The partner said last week that restaurants and nightclubs operating in the vicinity of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Yas Marina can earn up to $1.6m (AED6 million) during the three-day race weekend.

He said revenue generated during Formula 1 can match the annual turnover for many Dubai restaurants.

“During F1 weekend alone, the turnover that you make is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous! The numbers that Cipriani does, or any of the other competitors around, is AED 6 million in three days on a weekend. That’s the turnover for most restaurants in Dubai for a whole year. We have the numbers proven,” he said.

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