Head to Head: Sanderson’s in Abu Dhabi

The head chef and restaurant manager of Sanderson’s discuss the healthy living concept
Troy Payne, head chef
Troy Payne, head chef
Sumi Payne, restaurant manager
Sumi Payne, restaurant manager

What is unique about Sanderson’s and how does it compare to its competitors in the market?

Troy Payne: Something unique that I like about Sanderson’s is that we are not trying to be anyone else, and hope to stay that way, we work with local producers and create new ideas for people to try, its not about following trends.


Sumi Payne: Sanderson’s location is unique. It is a standalone cafe opposite relaxing poolside views, set inside the grounds of a sweet, family friendly boutique hotel. It has a laid back, bohemian atmosphere, and always seems so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

How do the front-of-house and back-of-house support each other?

Troy Payne: At Sanderson’s we don’t train our team separately, from the beginning all the staff are involved in all facets of daily operations. This provides us with a strong and supportive team that helps each other without questioning.

Sumi Payne: Communication! Teamwork makes the dream work. We have a briefing every morning outlining whats available and what’s not, what challenges we could potentially face and how we can resolve them. We work together to solve problems as quickly as possible.

How is the pricing strategy justified?

Troy Payne: Our menu is designed and priced well at an affordable price point, enabling us to run a successful business yet being able to offer and show people that good food doesn’t have to be expensive.

Sumi Payne: We do our best to source good quality ingredients from reputable suppliers and a lot of our ingredients are organic without making a big fuss out of it.

How do you ensure the outlet is profitable?

Troy Payne: By making sure that we keep our standards high, customers looked after, working closely with our suppliers and understanding all the different customers’ needs, while making sure we train and educate all our staff about the importance of costings, stock, portion control and customer service

Sumi Payne: I monitor all our operating costs! This happens daily. It’s nonstop. We try to constantly find the balance between serving a great product while keeping things manageable business side. There are strategy meetings, there is training, there are promotions there is a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Troy Payne: Understanding that it’s difficult make everyone happy all the time, especially while we try to remain different to others around us.

Sumi Payne: The biggest challenge? Remaining relevant and standing out in a hospitality scene that seems to be over saturated with cookie cutter cafes that have imported ideas from everywhere. 

What does the future of Sanderson’s look like?

Troy Payne: Bright, happy, fun and committed to becoming a solid community based café for everyone

Sumi Payne: Bright, colourful and balanced! Look out for nice yoga mornings, cool kids’ parties, and some fun promotional menus.

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