Posh or popular: outlets choose strategy

Reduced spending forces definitive choice regarding positioning
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Terra Firma's Eicke Christian.
Terra Firma's Eicke Christian.

Diner decrease and reduced consumer spending mean outlets must choose a definitive pricing path

Reduced consumer spending on dining out is forcing outlets to make tough choices about the direction of their brand, top regional chefs have claimed.

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Antonio Dominicis, chef de cuisine at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek’s Italian restaurant La Moda, noted: “Before the downturn all outlets were busy, all of them were making money. But there just isn’t the same number of people eating out now, and certainly not the same spend.

“Covers have decreased plus there are some meal deals at extremely affordable rates, so there’s big competition nowadays.”

Al Badia Golf Club’s Terra Firma head chef Eicke Christian added that operators had to be “very careful about how they decide to make their outlets more accessible”.

“If you have an expensive high-end offering and reduce the price, the former customers might still go there — but the change may also attract people who do not fit with the regular clientele. It’s a difficult decision,” he noted. “You have to choose which path to take.

“Perhaps you go for the cheaper, more popular option, or you decide to keep the higher prices and accept that you will have a smaller clientele, but that your loyal guests will be happy.”

But Al Bustan Rotana executive chef Christophe Prud’homme pointed out that ulitmately it came back to profit. “If you’re operating at a loss, or even breaking even, that’s not sustainable,” he commented.

Thomas Gagliardi, executive chef at Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, added: “It’s basically about the investors; we might like to be artists, but the bottom line is that we want to take home our pay cheque, so we have to fill up the restaurant.”

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