Five minutes with… Trevor Mackenzie
What can diners expect from the new concept?
It’s a new style of Mango Tree in Dubai — Mango Tree That Bistro. It’s a bit more of a casual, fun concept. Here the music is a bit louder, and we have a different type of menu. It has classic Thai dishes, what we call ‘adventurous’ Thai dishes that have a lot more spice and heat to them, and we have what we call ‘Thai twists’ on the menu.
Being in JBR it’s a wider range of market; lots of families, individual travellers, some business people, so we’ve made a menu that’s quite diverse.
We have 137 seats inside and outside. The reason we did that is because we are quite aware that in the cooler season everyone wants to sit outside, then when it gets hot everyone moves back inside.
Why did Mango Tree choose to come back to Dubai?
Once I go to a country I never want to leave. We are 61 years old and started as a small family business, now the third generation has taken over. Our philosophy is we don’t want to have billions of restaurants around the world. What we want is the restaurants we open to stay open.
But you never know with landlords. In Dubai you’re not signing 15 year leases like you are in North America. In Dubai you get thee plus two or three plus three so you never know. What we’ve been able to prove in all of our markets is we are successful and that we can do more volume than other Thai restaurants, so we have a proven model.
What sets Mango Tree Thai Bistro apart from its competitors on the scene?
One is our menu. We are primarily focused on Thai but because we put the Thai twists in there it appeals to a wider range, we’ve made it approachable. It’s not your typical Thai dinner — I said when we do this new concept bistro, let’s bring the type of food that people in Thailand are experiencing in the streets, in the casual restaurants, or even what myself and my family go out and eat. That’s what we’re putting on our menus. We’re saying we’re going to take you outside the box. We want you to experience what we eat in Thailand so you go away wowed.
Do you have a built-in reputation in Dubai thanks to the previous Mango Tree?
In Dubai we have such a big following of people who remember Mango Tree from before. People I haven’t spoken to in three years have been messaging me to say they’re so happy we’re back and they’ll be coming round. But we still need to prove what we can do, and we need to deliver. We’re drilling it into our staff that there’s expectations and that we need to deliver. You can’t shortcut, there’s an expectation of what we were before. The challenge is getting everyone to understand the concept.
I want to show everyone we can relaunch and be successful and that will help us springboard into expansion across the region.