Keegan Payne shakes up the competition at Caterer Middle East Awards

Took home Bar Manager of the Year for his work at Barbary
Keegan Payne, bar manager at Barbary with Reina Ezzeddin, marketing manager of Welbilt
Keegan Payne, bar manager at Barbary with Reina Ezzeddin, marketing manager of Welbilt

In Barbary’s first year of operation, bar manager Keegan Payne earned two promotions due to his exceptional leadership skills and bar management, culminating in taking home the Caterer Middle East Awards Bar Manager of the Year title.

Payne flew in from South Africa especially for the awards and managed to receive the trophy from Reina Ezzeddin, marketing manager of Welbilt. in the hotly-contested category.


The Caterer Middle East Awards judges were impressed by his relentless drive and speed at adapting to new trends which has seen improvements not only in the bar itself, but in his colleagues who have benefitted from his willingness to go the extra mile, and his singular focus on minimising waste has seen a dramatic cost in the concept’s beverage cost.

Speaking at the awards, Payne said: “Every drink that goes out from our bar is important. Even if it’s a Coca Cola with ice and lemon. Keeping the customer engaged is important as a bar tender. The lemon, the ice and the glass all need to be perfect and the guys behind Barbary bar have made my job easy.”

Payne began working in the hospitality sector aged just 16 in his native South Africa, first as a bar-back and then as a bartender, before making the move to Dubai. He joined The First Group at The Blacksmith before transferring to Barbary after just three months.

Barbary founder and managing partner Joey Ghazal spoke highly of Payne in his submission, saying: “He has proven himself to be a natural born leader, managing a team of seven other bartenders. He loves training and has an infectious enthusiasm that has changed the team dynamic behind the bar."

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Egor Petrov, bar manager, NEOS Night Lounge
Ioan Bucurenciu, bar manager, Maison Mathis 'Arabian Ranches' & Le Petit Belge 'Motor City'
Jorge Fernandes, outlet manager, Porters English Pub
Nandar Ko Ko Win, assistant bar manager, Zero Gravity

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