5 things to consider before opening a restaurant in Dubai

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Gabrielle F. Mather, CEO & Founder of leading UAE-based restaurant firm Restaurant Secrets Inc., looks at five often overlooked aspects of opening a new restaurant in Dubai.

1) Consistent menu engineering is a must for any successful restaurant.

Dubai is an extremely trend conscious market, which means restaurant menus must be re-engineered every three to six months to stay relevant. The market is always evolving, drawing inspiration from all major leading food capitals around the world. It’s important to ensure restaurant owners either have the right talent on board in-house or use F&B consultants to develop head-turning signature menus and to manage these unavoidable updates regularly, effectively and creatively.

2) Budgets should be allocated for staff training and experiences.

A downfall in many restaurants is the high turnover of staff. Losing employees is costly for restaurant owners when accounting for UAE hiring costs such as visas, healthcare, accommodation, etc. High staff turnover is a real financial loss to any business. Considering that an average employee needs six months to be fully productive and thoroughly understand the business, losing them frequently means you are constantly fighting with a rookie team instead of retaining your 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 a restaurant – or any business for that matter.

3) Waste management must be taken seriously.

Too many restaurants don’t have waste management systems in place, which results in too much stock on shelves and in fridges that goes in the bin. Owners should implement a strong POS system as well as kitchen management systems for inventory control that ensures they sell what they buy. A JIT system is perfect for the current market scenario of unpredictable sales and can help minimize stock levels and rotating products so that they don’t go off. Food wastage is a massive global issue, and costs restaurant owners thousands every year.

4) Investing in Instagram marketing is a must.

Instagram marketing in this part of the world is more effective and crucial to a brand’s positioning and communication than anywhere else globally. Have a budget for social media marketing, and also for 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 so many consumers choose where to dine through feed scrolling. Restaurants need to make their grid count.

5) Select your kitchen and build contractors carefully – very carefully.

Restaurant owners should be prepared to pay a premium price if they want to open on time and produce a quality venue. While it may seem attractive 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 commonplace for low-cost contractors in Dubai. Tender out your build contracts and ask for references. Check out if the contactor has done restaurants before because the fit out of F&B units is very different from usual contracting.

For more information about Restaurant Secrets Inc. call +971 56 216 1511 or e-mail enquire@restaurantsecrets.com for a free one-hour consultation. Visit restaurantsecretsinc.com or follow @restaurantsecretsinc on social media for further background.