Top 20 outlet interiors: #20-11

    A round-up of the region's best and brightest F&B outlet interiors
    Find out who made the cut in Caterer's Top 20 Outlet Interiors
    Find out who made the cut in Caterer's Top 20 Outlet Interiors
    Al Arisha.
    Al Arisha.
    Ruth's Chris Steak House.
    Ruth's Chris Steak House.
    The Belgian Beer Cafe.
    The Belgian Beer Cafe.
    Al Bindaira.
    Al Bindaira.
    More Cafe, Dubai Mall.
    More Cafe, Dubai Mall.
    Pearls & Caviar.
    Pearls & Caviar.

    The Top 20 Outlet Interiors is Caterer Middle East magazine's pick of the most unique, successful and true-to-concept F&B designs from around the region.

    These outlets demonstrate how the right design can raise an outlet’s profile, drive business and win customer loyalty.


    Read on to see who made the cut…


    Please note that the Top 20 Outlet Interiors is an entirely subjective list.

    The list — which comprises both independent and hotel outlets — was compiled following recommendations offered by industry professionals and company colleagues.

    The final ranking was selected based on the design’s originality, its success as a working outlet and how well the interior supported the concept behind the operation.

    We welcome your feedback, so please click on ‘Comment’ halfway up this page to voice your opinions!


    Coming in at number 20 is quirky Bahraini outlet Al Arisha, designed by Phoenicia Décor.

    “The design was inspired by the ancient Arabic culture, blended with a modern touch,” says outlet manager Ghassan Tahtah.

    “The fixture and fittings came from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, while the furniture was chosen from Italy.”

    Tahtah says that the right interior design can have “a positive impact on the business”.

    “The secret to creating a well-designed F&B outlet is that it should be relaxing and comfortable,” he notes.


    The art deco-inspired interior of Ruth’s Chris Steak House was developed by Gavin Mackenzie, senior design manager at Dubai-based firm Outcast.

    “The design is meant to act as an accompaniment to the food, rather than a distraction from it,” says Mackenzie.

    “The ease of flow in design is what gives Ruth’s Chris its edge. When you dine in the restaurant you feel at ease and welcomed because the designs and colours used are complementary and purposeful.

    “The whole point of interior design in a restaurant is that you are part of a wider frame,” he continues.

    “Any restaurant that is successful is not just successful because of the food they serve, but rather because of the whole package deal, including the design.

    “In order to have a successfully designed F&B outlet it is vital that the bigger picture is envisioned and brought to life before the ground work begins,” Mackenzie advises.

    “All aspects need to be taken into account — and functionality is something that must be thought of with every step in the design process. After all, the main purpose of a patron’s visit to the restaurant is for the food!”


    Moroccan restaurant Shahrazad was designed by Wilson Associates, who have created an intimate and authentic setting.

    “Lighting is a key element of the design,” notes Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa director of sales and marketing, Debrah Pascoe.

    “The ceiling lighting is intended to simulate a starry Arabian night and this is complemented by the reflection from the black marble flooring, while light fixtures on the walls add a subtle brilliance to the restaurant’s interior.

    “For authenticity and in line with the Moroccan cuisine of the restaurant, a variety of furnishings were sourced from Morocco,” she adds.


    Belgium-based design firm Creneau were the design firm behind the cheerful Begian Beer Café — a bistro-style, traditional Belgian bar concept, offering authentic food and drink.

    “Creneau designed the Belgian Beer Café to be a place of glowing mahogany-stained solid oak, to give the restaurant a warm, rural and lived-in feel,” explains restaurant manager
    Dirk Van de Haar.

    “Engraved bar stools, beveled mirrors, floor tiles, vintage beer posters and other antiques and souvenirs adorn the bar, which were all hand-selected and shipped from the homeland to add to authentic charm.”

    According to Van de Haar, it is vital for restaurateurs to develop a style for their outlet which will positively impact current as well as potential customers — and this includes the interior design.

    “Understanding the market is key. This includes identifying your customer segment, researching the competition, and getting feedback from existing customers are all really important steps that should be taken into consideration.

    “The theme of the restaurant is another consideration, and aids with direction on where you can take the outlet. The Belgian Beer Café conforms to this upscale yet casual theme,” Van de Haar explains.


    The design for the eye-catching Kitsune concept — an independent outlet located within the Fairmont Dubai — was developed by Hachem Australia, headquartered in Melbourne.

    “Every item in the interior, from the flooring to the ceiling, from the walls to the chairs, have all been inspired by the Kitsune concept and our interpretation of Japanese architecture and design,” explained Elie Khoury, managing director of Kitsune’s management company, White Label.

    “Japanese gardens inspired the form and structure, origami inspired our ceiling and wall paneling and the shapes and sizes of temples have inspired our chairs.

    “The primary colour scheme is white and red infused with gold and black, to give a luxurious feel. And since the concept is based on Kitsune, we have specially commissioned Kitsune fox statues that have been placed inside the restaurant.

    According to Khoury, interior design is “the key element in setting the mood” when it comes to F&B outlets.

    “It is this ambience that clients come to Kitsune to experience — and this is what sets us apart from other restaurant concepts,” he explains.

    “More than just serving high quality Japanese cuisine, we provide our clients with an ‘experience’ — once they walk in through our doors, they are transported to the magical, fantasy world of Kitsune which has a surreal feeling.

    “The interior design elevates the whole concept from being just a restaurantt serving great cuisine to being a true ‘experience’.”


    Al Bindaira Café’s owning company, Al-Abraaj Restaurants Group, worked with Lewan Engineering lead architect Ahmed Al-Mahoozi to realise its vision.

    “What makes the design so special is the fact that its not a new-build,” says the group’s director, Hamad Rashed Hilal.

    “Its a restoration of two semi-detached old houses built in the 1960s.

    “A lot of thinking went into how to save the structure while at the same time expanding, opening up and incorporating all the required services within the walls,” he notes.

    According to Hilal, interior design is “a major factor” in promoting an F&B outlet.

    “It’s always very important to provide proper food and service — but you need that perfect ambience as well to create a strong destination,” he says.

    And the key to designing a successful outlet?

    “Create a space that doesn’t only look good, but stays looking good,” advises Hilal.


    Steve Leung Designers developed the interior concept for this North Indian-inspired fine-dining restaurant.

    “As the name ‘Ushna’ means fire, we used bright colours such as red, pink, purple and orange to symbolise that brightness, creating a cheerful and luxurious atmosphere,” said a spokesperson for the outlet.

    “We believe that interior design has a very good marketing value, because it pinpoints the restaurant’s features and identity.

    “We all know that a restaurant’s interior design in only part of the experience: the food quality and service are the key elements to affect the business.

    “But a great design really enhances the guest’s whole view of the outlet.”


    Celebrated interior designer Karim Rashid worked on this vibrant concept, which according to brand director Deem Al Bassam “brings positive energy that takes you on a journey and offers a futuristic dining experience”.

    “I wanted people to imagine how it would feel if they were eating in ‘tomorrow’,” she explains.
    Al Bassam insists that design is”the face” of any business.

    “Without it, the business holds no identity,” she asserts. “A hotel or restaurant design must send that first message to the client.

    “Great design creates great expectations, gives you a hint of what to expect on your dining table and what will the price and quality range be,” Al Bassam observes.

    “We always remember what we see and we never forget what we experience.”


    Coming in at number 12 is More Café, which unlike the majority of our Top 20 did not actually employ an external design firm.

    “Having worked in the restaurant trade for so long, you get a feel for what works and what's right. More is effectively the manifestation of all these observations and thoughts,” says the brand’s managing partner, Wouter Lap.

    “All elements of More’s design and space utilisation were custom designed by Marijke [Lap, Wouter’s wife and co-founder of the More concept] and myself — something we are very proud of.

    “In Dubai there are a lot of cookie-cutter concepts, franchises and imported brands from around the globe. The joy of More is that it's a combination of unique features which result in an aesthetically balanced and comfortable interior, giving the brand its own appeal and identity.

    “You might think some things are a little odd or quirky but we love that and believe that it's one of the reasons why people come to us week in, week out.”


    The dual-concept of Pearls & Caviar was devised by Netherlands-based company Concrete.
    ”The concept for the restaurant and bar derives from the pearl diving and fishing heritage of the UAE,” explains Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri director of sales and marketing Natalie Glorney.

    “The outlet actually features a classical poem in Arabic about pearl diving, wrapped around the exterior of the building.”

    According to Glorney, an F&B outlet’s interior design defines “the mood, style and tone of the whole outlet experience, including the food”.

    “It immediately gives out an impression to a guest walking in,” she notes. “So they will expect the food to be contemporary if the surroundings are.

    “In Pearls & Caviar, the striking use of colour, with black downstairs in Caviar restaurant and white upstairs in Pearls Bar, naturally divides the two areas.

    It’s important to remember that whatever the concept behind an outlet, this should resonate in every piece of furniture, every decoration and every material used, continues Glorney.

    “No matter how trendy, classical or quirky the restaurant, to be successful it must still be comfortable and a place that people would want to relax and be seen in,” she says.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the Top 10 Outlet Interiors, coming to later this week.

    In the mean time, let us know your opinions: who would you like to see in the final list — and who does not deserve to be there?

    Click on 'Comment' halfway up this page to make your voice heard!


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