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Mon 26 Aug 2019 01:56 PM

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UAE restaurant customers crave sustainability, says Sarood Hospitality GM

One of Sarood Hospitality's brands - The Noodle House - has announced a ban on single use plastics and implemented bio-degradable delivery packaging

UAE restaurant customers crave sustainability, says Sarood Hospitality GM

Restaurants will increasingly be forced to adopt sustainable practices or risk a backlash from customers, according to Sarood Hospitality general manager Spencer Ayers.

Sarood Hospitality – which was formerly known as JRG Dubai until a re-branding was announced in July – is the restaurant management company of Dubai Retail, the retail management arm of Dubai Holding.

At the moment, the company’s portfolio includes The Noodle House, Al Nafoodah, Pierchic, the Duck Huck, Hillhouse Brasserie, Khaymat Al Bahar, Pai Thai, Perry & Blackwelder’s, Segreto, Trattoria Toscana and Flow.

“There will be a move towards vetoing brands that aren’t conscious about sustainability in the future,” Ayers said in an interview with Arabian Business.

Following a similar move by Freedom Pizza in January 2018, one of Sarood’s brands – the Noodle House – immediately followed suit by banning the use of plastic straws, cutlery, cocktail sticks and stirrers across all its outlets. The initiative was then rolled out across the group’s other brands by the second quarter of the year.

Several months later, in October 2018, Noodle House shifted towards sustainable delivery packaging.

“I think we’ve been pretty pioneering in respect of that as an initiative,” Ayers said. “That means fully bio-degradable, veggie-ware packaging.”

“Our pledge to the consumers in Dubai and the UAE is that we’ll be single-use plastic free [across the group] by the beginning of Expo in 2020,” he added.

Digital Shift

Commenting on the changing habits of restaurant customers in the UAE, Ayers said that restaurants are also increasingly being forced to use technology to “appease the needs” of the consumer.

“The consumer wants many different things. But in reality, where they want interaction, they want it to be personal. Where they don’t want interaction, you need to be able to give them the tools [they need] to be able to have ease.”

As examples, Ayers noted that many restaurants will likely begin implementing technology that helps ease the process of ordering food, booking tables and paying.

In the case of Sarood Hospitality, Ayers said that some of its restaurants will go “paper free”.

“That doesn’t lend itself to traditional places…but in the future, it will be about mobilization,” he said. “It will be about veneered use of their phone, such as through Sage or Apple Pay. It’s not a website, or assets owned [by the restaurant], but it’s in people’s hands. The guest’s hands.”

On August 4, Sarood Hospitality took over the operations of 14 new brands as part of a partnership with Meraas, bringing its total portfolio to 25 F&B brands, including 11 homegrown concepts.

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