Coronavirus closures force high-end restaurants to embrace delivery

A number of fine-dining venues have introduced delivery for the first time
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Boca DIFC is launching its La Taperia virtual brand to take advantage of delivery
Boca DIFC is launching its La Taperia virtual brand to take advantage of delivery

In a bid to keep serving their customers and keep their businesses alive as much of the population self-isolates, high-end dining venues in the UAE are turning to delivery – some for the first time.

While delivery has been an important part of the country’s F&B ecosystem, with stats from KPMG suggesting 60% of consumers in the country use delivery apps, compared to just 18% in the UAE, high-end restaurants have generally avoided it for fear of not being able to replicate the same quality experience they can in-house.

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However, with coronavirus causing much of the world to go into lockdown and UAE restaurants being forced to close dine-in operations for at least the next two weeks, delivery has become the only source of revenue for some.

Omar Shihab, general manager of Mediterranean restaurant Boca in DIFC, said to Caterer Middle East: “We are turning to delivery as one of the last few outlets where we can do what we like to do: cook and deliver tasty food to customers.”

Although Shihab would prefer to be serving customers in his restaurants than using online delivery, he has been faced with no option. He said: “It is not ideal as it was never our forte. There are many who are doing a great job in that space but we have to use it.”

Boca is in the process of launching two virtual brands: La Taperia, serving tapas favourites from the south of Spain being fronted by fictional chef character Paco Sanchez, and Pastrami on Rye, an all-day deli serving pastrami sandwiches with homemade sauerkraut, cheese, pickles, and fries.

It has been joined by other DIFC stalwarts such as Roberto’s. The Italian venue has launched Roberto’s at Home, its own delivery service across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with customers able to get all their signature Roberto’s favourites delivered to them within two hours.

Fans of Japanese haute cuisine in Abu Dhabi can now get 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant to eat at home for the first time also.

“We are thrilled to see the positivity in people during these times, and are hugely grateful for the massive support that we have seen in the past few days,” said general manager Jamie Castaneda.

BB Social Dining has also launched begun delivering its usual menu via Deliveroo and has launched virtual brand Little Katsu Shop to continue serving its customers.

Colin Clague’s Turkish restaurant Ruya at Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina is also taking orders direct via telephone and WhatsApp, while restaurants at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach including Folia and Sea Fu  are available on Talabat, Uber Eats, and Zomato through Gastrohome by Four Seasons.

With so many restaurants forced to turrn to delivery in these trying times, there have been calls from prominent industry figures such as FooDiva and Food Sheikh for delivery platforms to reduce their commission to help them, but so far these pleas have fell on deaf ears.

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