Five things to consider when opening a restaurant in Dubai

Written by: Gabrielle F. Mather, Founder & CEO of Restaurant Secrets Inc

5 things

Dubai’s bustling F&B scene sees the opening of new restaurants regularly, and closures near as frequently. While there’s no pinpoint reason that is responsible responsible for doors closing, there are a range of contributing factors, such as areas of the business often forgotten about during an outlet’s launch period.

Overlooking important areas of the restaurant business could see the closure of your venue. Before opening a restaurant in Dubai, we would advise any restauranteur to consider and manage their resources to ensure they’re able to effectively deliver on a few key areas. These five aspects of opening a restaurant in Dubai should never fall by the wayside

  1. Menu Engineering needs to be consistent
    Dubai is known for its extremely trend conscious market, we suggest restaurant menus must be re-engineered every three to six months to stay relevant. Dubai’s F&B market is always evolving, drawing inspiration from all major leading food capitals around the world. It’s important to ensure you have the right talent on board within your brand or to task F&B consultants to develop head-turning signature menus and to manage these unavoidable updates regularly, effectively and creatively.
  2. Budgets need to be set aside for staff training and experiences.
    A downfall for many restaurants is the high turnover of staff. Losing employees is costly when there are hiring costs such as visas, healthcare, accommodation, etc to consider in the UAE. High staff turnover is a real financial loss to any business. It is important to remember that an average employee needs six months to be fully productive and thoroughly understand the business, losing them frequently means you are constantly dealing with a rookie team instead of retaining strong people, who you’ve invested trainings and operational synergy in, just when they are finally becoming an asset to you. It’s important for businesses to include training and incentive budgets into their P&L. Employees who feel taken care of and valued will always put more into making success of the business.
  3. Waste management is crucial
    Too many restaurants don’t have waste management systems in place which results in large amounts of stock on shelves and in fridges that end up in the bin. You should implement a strong POS system as well as kitchen management systems for inventory control that ensures you sell what you buy. A JIT system is perfect for the current market scenario of unpredictable sales and can help minimise stock levels and rotating products so that they do not spoil. Food wastage is a massive issue globally, and costs restaurant owners thousands every year.
  4. Ensure you have a set marketing budget
    Instagram marketing in this region is more effective and crucial to a brand’s positioning and communication than anywhere else globally. Having a budget set for social media marketing is essential. The budget will also need to include hiring the right candidate with the relevant skills. High quality imagery is a must, so don’t skimp on photography. Building great content through lifestyle and professional imagery and videos is the way to go in the UAE. We’re living in an age where many consumers choose where to dine by scrolling through feeds. Restaurants need to make their grid count.
  5. Careful selection of your kitchen and build contractor
    You should be prepared to pay a premium price if you want to open on time and produce a quality venue. While it may seem appealing to go with the lower priced contractor to start, this will ultimately result in spending more in the long run. Delayed openings and poor delivery are conventional for low-cost contractors in Dubai. Tender out your build contracts and ask for references. Make sure to check if the contactor has done restaurants before because the fit out of F&B units is very different from usual contracting.
Brand Management