Tug of war: I want Vs I need
It’s an age old dilemma: do you go for what you want or what you actually need?
Would you choose the big, gooey slice of chocolate cake or the apple? Are you torn over whether to spend the evening finishing of that vital piece of work or go for dinner with your friends?
Or are you spending sleepless nights weighing up whether to build the big, flashy fine-dining restaurant or go with a simpler, more straight-forward concept?
It all comes down to that eternal struggle of indulgent, instant gratification versus thinking long term.
And in the context of this region and its upcoming F&B developments, owners and developers who are in a position to expand right now should consider following the latter path if they want long-lasting results.
The Middle East has long held a reputation as a glamorous tourist destination; luxury hotels pepper the major cities while for every secluded, sandy bay there is a five-star resort complex.
This is a region that has made its name by being the superlative destination — the biggest, the boldest, the best.
This status is reflected in the dining options, with numerous new celebrity chef signature restaurants and unique fine dining concepts springing up every year.
But now, for the first time in a long time, we are facing falling tourism figures.
People are being more conservative with their money — hence the sudden boom in mid-market and budget hotels.
So where are the cautious consumers of today spending their money when they do go out?
The answer is not fine dining.
When out and about over the past few months, Caterer’s spies have noted a distinct dwindling in business at fine dining establishments.
New ones in particular seem to be suffering, but even established old names are not packing the punters in like they used to.
Instead, diners are looking to mid-range, good value, good quality outlets; ones which may not have the sumptuous décor of a luxury restaurant, but who have ticked the boxes for top food and service.
With this in mind, who would choose to open a fine dining concept now?
Some parties, such as five-star hotel developments, have no choice: they planned to open this year and so they will — along with their outlets.
But rumours from this month’s Gourmet Abu Dhabi event of plans for two new signature restaurants from a top international chef prove that there are still developers out there looking to make their mark on the fine dining scene.
As does glitzy new Japanese outlet Kitsune, opening soon in Dubai.
Will these concepts offer the market what it needs right now? Only time will tell.
One thing is certain: those developers looking to make their mark and choosing the chocolate cake over the apple had better make sure their ‘indulgent, instant gratification’ concept has enough originality and quality to stay the course.
Otherwise we’re going to see some extremely nauseous developers further down the line.