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Tue 17 Sep 2019 11:14 AM

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'Don't get too emotional over F&B closures,' says Sunset Hospitality CEO

Capital plays a small role in running a successful venue, according to Antonio Gonzalez

'Don't get too emotional over F&B closures,' says Sunset Hospitality CEO
Antonio Gonzalez said restaurateurs should put their emotions aside when closing unsuccessful venues.

The key to running a successful F&B business lies in controlling your emotions, at least according to the CEO of Dubai-based Sunset Hospitality Group.

Antonio Gonzalez said restaurateurs should put their emotions aside when closing unsuccessful venues.

Sunset Hospitality, which operates brands such as Black Tap, Azure and Drift beach clubs among others, is expanding heavily into the Middle East with eight openings planned in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain and the UK by the end of 2020.

The company has a high success ratio and has shut down only one concept in the last three years, Gonzalez said.

“We have had one closure in the past three years but now all our concepts are performing very well. We have closed down or transferred a Lebanese restaurant. The key to closing concepts or venues is not to get too emotional. Every time we open an outlet, we get very close to it; it’s like having a new child. So you get very emotional when you have to let it go if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

“We have a very successful ratio of probably 95 percent for all restaurants we have, but sometimes no matter what you do, a restaurant doesn’t work,” the CEO said.

Founded in 2011, Sunset Hospitality Group currently operates 13 dining venues, two beach clubs and one nightlife spot spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain and Geneva. 

Gonzalez told Arabian Business there is no “magic touch” when it comes to opening successful restaurants.

“No, no, no. I don’t think it’s a magic touch; it’s hard work. We have this approach to business where it’s important that we do a proper and thorough visibility study and that we have a very good deal with rent and our relationship with our landlords.

“We also try to build smart. It’s very easy to overspend on our outlets then it’s difficult to operate profitably and generate relevant return on investment. We are very focused on operational profitability. We try to make sure we make profit everywhere we operate, and maximise operations, so you have to get those things right. That’s the secret. The secret is no secret, just do the best you can,” he said.

The CEO added that capital only plays a small role - 5 to 10 percent - of running a successful venue.

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