Covid 19: The Unintended & Unknown Destination.

  • A road not traveled by any of us before
  • A journey not undertaken by any of us before
  • We are all headed to a destination unknown to all of us

We find ourselves in the midst of unintended and unplanned for circumstances, unaware and unprepared of how to deal, survive, fight and live through this period. The extreme uncertainties bring about new situations and challenges to which we react, act and sometimes fail or succeed, on a daily basis

As an industry, we find ourselves in a F-I-L-O environment. No, this is not a new inventory storage mechanism but rather a timeline of events that have occurred upon all of us with a potential view of evaluating and coming out on the other side. I call it the First In Last Out model.

We were amongst the first to get hit with the emergence and spread of Covid-19 and shall be amongst the last to emerge out of it, thus making the journey through this phase, not only the longest but also that of going through and enduring maximum pain, financial stress, instability, impending closures with last but not the least, facing dire prospects of losing many livelihoods of passionate industry colleagues

That we will emerge is certain, which is just a matter of time. With all the strong and immediate actions taken by governments the world over and specifically those taken by the UAE government, have indeed set the tone and pace for tackling, dealing, containing and treating those affected. The UAE leadership’s decisions backed by supreme intelligence, learning and collaborative efforts have ensured the safety for all citizens and residents, alike.

Our industry’s resilience is on test, no doubt. This very same asset has brought everyone together for the common good. The good for each other, for humanity, for our employees, our customers and everyone’s well-being. With the UAE government proceeding with gradual opening up of all sectors, it seems like we could see the light at the end of this long tunnel very soon. While yet walking through this tunnel, I for-see many an activity that we all must and shall be forced to undertake, if we are to reach that light towards the end. I hereby highlight all these below :

Dig through the Hay Stack
Dig your business deep, unlock all the bolts, re-evaluate and re-jig your business model if you wish to survive. The earlier ways of doing business may not come back fully or in the same fashion. Business models for all of us and across industries are going to get turned over their heads
Polish Up
Lean times are an opportunity to rewind, rejuvenate and re-energize. Get the teams together, polish their skills and yours. Un-learn the old to learn the new
Embrace the New Normal
The new normal, when it does arrive, shall bring with it a complex web of challenges, ways of working and trends. Leaner and lighter business models shall emerge too
Look for out emerging trends such as home-cooking, home-chefs, supper clubs, new packaging for food delivery, meal-kits, merging lines between food, ready- to-cook and grocery preferences, sustainability, heightened customer consciousness about ingredients quality & ethical sourcing, to name a few
There is no choice but to do this. Re-align all your processes, internal and external. Outsource what you can, integrate with others in the industry to synergise and generate efficiencies while reducing overall costs
Larger companies will feel the heat to do their own levels of integration : backward, forward, internal and external at great speed to be able to hopefully come out leaner and stronger on the other side
It is inevitable for us to see consolidation in our industry in the months to come. Many a great concept may not be able to cross the tunnel and reach the other side. For those who actually manage doing so, will not reach there unscathed either. Serious long-term investors are expected to pick up brands and concepts at very low valuations. This is definitely not the best scenario for those selling out but left with none to very limited options, biting this bullet might be the only way out for many.
Preserve what you can hold onto, beginning with your employees, customers and yourself. Our industry is a skill driven one, powered by all human capital, which if allowed to dis-integrate will take the longest to re-build
Preserve cash if you have some left. The rain hasn’t gone yet
Keep the Faith
Last but not the least, trust yourself and those around you. You need everyone including yourself to stay safe and stay sane.
Wish the very best to everyone and see you on the other side
Case Studies

Brand Incubation, Concept Development, Operations Management & Strategic Growth

Scope of Work

  • Market research to study, evaluate & understand cuisine trends, café formats, competitive landscape, customer spends, design elements, manpower & customer experiences
  • Conceptualise, create & develop a unique gourmet café
  • Create a distinguishable, gourmet styled comfort food menu
  • Create high quality beverages based on coffee, tea and healthy & fresh ingredients
  • Recruit, train & manage skilled team members
  • Project management, SOP’s, logistics & overall management of the business


  • Location hunt
  • Design build
  • Menu development
  • Team building
  • Pre-opening SOP’s, training, trials & soft-runs
  • Post-opening customer experience management
  • Post-opening team re-training & management


The Fun Part

What started out as a location hunting exercise led to the most enriching experience of developing a high-end gourmet café, building it through all parameters, running the business and going on to win awards too.

An enviable location in a brand-new development with a large corner frontage & outdoor seating set the stage for a highly distinguished concept creation.

Thinking & working on the concept idea delved our brains into making it a high-end gourmet, all-day dining café with great comfort food from across the globe and organic teas, coffees and healthy blends to add to the offering.

Designing the space as an open kitchen format with a large indoor & outdoor dining area, having loads of sun shine through the outlet’s floor to ceiling glass façade turned out to be one of the most exciting planning exercises undertaken.

The Important Part

The macro to micro exercise was easier said than done. This involved a lot of thinking & planning and re-thinking & re-planning multiple times over till the best desired outcomes were developed.

Brand naming kicked off the entire vision for the concept leading to a superb menu development exercise coupled with a highly energetic & interesting space design for the outlet.

Developing the right team with skill sets & personality matches was the next big task. This was accomplished via careful selection of members based more on their personality & attitude attributes with a great deal of training provided to hone their skills to exude a higher level of vibe & confidence suiting the concept attitude & panache.

Many days, weeks & a few months later, the outlet was raring to go. Alongside the build, menu development & trials, team training, supplier’s selection and creation of standard operating procedures, a carefully thought out marketing program was also put into place.

The concept was soft-launched and followed through with a mega launch two months later thus giving birth & establishing the newest & finest gourmet café in town.

The Critical Part

As if building the concept, the menu, the team and conducting all pre-opening trials weren’t enough, the worst and the best was yet to come, exactly in the same order.

We opened doors one fine evening, guests came strolling in immediately thereon, orders started to flow, the kitchen began to hustle, the servers started handling their sections and so the evening went well.

What ensued over the next couple of weeks was completely the unexpected: guests poured & poured & poured and we could not cope & cope & cope. We had trained hard, prepared ourselves for all the hard work but we couldn’t match up. Such was the opening euphoria.

Back to Basics

Re-drawing the entire work-flow, menu re-orientation, team re-training was immediately put on the front lines with the utmost emphasis given to team morale and customer experience.

Day by day, shift by shift, member by member, dish by dish, we tolled yet again, perfecting each element again and again, to the degree where it began to feel like clock-work and a well-oiled team-managed machine.

The Re-Opening

Whilst we never closed during the re-orientation phase, we were conscious that we needed to send out a new message to all our customers who supported us during the difficult period and to thank our supplier partners along-with letting the town know that we were ready, yet-again.

A carefully planned out formal launch party was executed to great success, showcasing the venue, its cuisine, the awesome team and the panache that the concept had created.

Success is Sweet

Days, weeks, months and many happy customers later, the venue was nominated amongst the best in the category and went onto win a prestigious award.

The next couple of months saw a few more award categories flowing the venue’s way: We knew now that the concept was a huge success !!


  • How much ever one may work hard during the pre-opening days, you are never ready or prepared till you serve the first customer
  • The saying “Devil is in the Detail” is so true but one only realizes it after going through it
  • Operations is not for the faint hearted
  • Building a menu is easier than building a team
  • Stay ahead of the curve, always

Awards & Recognition

Favourite Cafe Dubai by What’s On Dubai

Two Hat Exceptional Rating by What’s On Dubai

Best Breakfast by Zomato Dubai

Nominated for Restaurant Team of the Year by Caterer Awards Dubai

Case Studies

Operations Improvements & Management, Growth Strategy & Acceleration

Scope of Work

  • Understanding & mapping out current operations & capabilities
  • Conducting gap analysis between current & desired operations & capabilities
  • Operations management, SOP’s, team training & development
  • Sales & marketing initiatives, campaigns & partnerships
  • Cuisine enhancements, recipes standardization, cost controls
  • New project build, expansion, logistics & overall management of the business


  • Inculcating a team spirit of superior customer service
  • Establishing process-oriented mindsets
  • Elevating legacy benchmarks & standards


The Critical Part

The approach for this project was reversed in many ways.

Being an already established concept, the key task to begin with was mapping current operational capabilities & efficiencies and establishing a roadmap for improvements coupled with expansion.

It became clear quite early and critical too, to work upon team morale, service training, etiquettes, personality development & togetherness to get everyone working together & stronger with enhanced efficiencies.

Next steps included outlet fit-out and equipment improvements, safety enhancements, staff grooming, service training, customer experience trainings and an overall improvement of operating procedures.

Alongside setting in place operational procedures, a second outlet for the brand was soft-opened and started serving customers in a new community.

The next six months or so were largely consumed with streamlining & enhancing overall operations, marketing partnerships & campaigns, focusing on customer experiences, ensuring superior cuisine standards and building team camaraderie.

The Fun Part

Next came the fun part of exploring locations, selecting them, working on design elements, cuisine enhancements and building a diverse-nationality based team to expand the brand further.

Two new outlets were opened within one year taking the tally to a total of four operating venues across town, serving different & diverse demographics and communities.

The initial work done in the critical phase came in very handy for a smooth roll-out of the new outlets, cuisine extensions, team recruitment, training & deployment, SOP’s and marketing campaigns.

The brand now had more to offer to a wider audience and exciting days lay ahead.

The Important Part

The routine of operations management took steam across all the outlets and their team members.

Regular reviews, supervision of food quality & service standards, customer engagement, marketing & brand campaigns, team morale and a clear focus on enhancing revenues became center-stage.

Over the next one year, the brand and each outlet performed superbly, grew their revenues, turned the brand from a single outlet to a multi-unit operation, serving happy customers with its unique value-based cuisine format.


  • Inter-mingling team members of different nationalities into a value-based concept
  • Understanding early the potential of home deliveries & food packaging
  • Managing the delivery logistics cycle
  • Careful growth acceleration of a community-based brand

Awards & Recognition

  • The brand was invited as the sole home-grown concept to present itself in the category of “Concept Showcase” at the prestigious “Global Restaurant Investment Forum” in 2016 in Dubai
Case Studies

High-end Venue Launch, Operations Management & Revenue Growth

Scope of Work

  • Deep-dive into understanding & streamlining operations
  • Creating, conducting trials & implementing a cocktail & wine menu
  • Improvising on the cuisine & introducing new elements
  • Crafting and implementing detailed training programs
  • Developing & implementing marketing campaigns
  • Extensive focus on customer experience, service & engagement


  • Bridging the gap between the FOH & BOH teams
  • Implementing extensive pre-opening format-style training programs in an already operational venue
  • Inculcating a team spirit of superior customer service
  • Ensuring the venue stands out in all respects amongst the other F&B venues in the highly competitive landscape of the community


The Critical Part

The venue had already soft-opened at the time of our association and had many gaps in terms of proper management, SOP’s, team training, cuisine orientation, team skills & personality and overall revenues.

It does become difficult & challenging taking on operating outlets and working through them to make continuous, day by day improvisations but it’s also a very interesting task to do.

We did just that and much more.

  • Created daily briefing & training programs for all team members
  • Brought in a spirit of camaraderie between the FOH & BOH teams
  • Crafted new cocktails & wines in the menu mix
  • Re-jigged all food recipes & made standardized improvisations
  • Re-developed all SOP’s for each section of the venue & its operations
  • Implemented, trained & perfected all SOP’s across overall operations
  • Created extensive, day by day, marketing campaigns, thereby targeting different customer groups
  • Worked extensively on creating the right vibe and environment, appropriately suiting the positioning of the venue as a high-end restaurant lounge
  • Developed special weekend barbeques on the terrace, making it the first within the community

The Important Part

It is extremely important to stay the course and we had to do just that with the tasks created & implemented in the critical phase of the project.

Streamlining all SOP’s, monitoring training progress, conducting regular & daily reviews of all operational aspects, measuring success of all marketing initiatives, focusing on each customer’s experience & engagement parameters and above all ensuring high levels of commitment & motivation for all team members became the hall-marks for this phase.

The Fun Part

With the critical & important tasks out of the way and implemented, it actually turned out to be a whole load of fun just running the outlet.

It was interesting to be able to interact with customers, plan team gatherings, conduct exclusive parties knowing fully well that all team members were managing their sections so well and all SOP’s were on a run-as-you-go model.

The venue became the most visited & busiest one in the community with revenues soaring to great highs. It was indeed a great project run.


  • Team management of a large venue
  • Competing with big names as established competition
  • Laying maximum emphasis on team spirit, togetherness & operational checklists
  • Navigating the complex mechanism of revenue generation

Awards & Recognition

  • The biggest recognition came in from all patrons & guests who became regulars & friends of the venue. There is no greater award & satisfaction
Case Studies

Multi-brand Concept’s Development, Management & Growth

Scope of Work

  • Launch of a large, high-end, licensed lounge & Thai fusion restaurant
  • Launch of a Japanese Sushi & Teppanyaki concept restaurant
  • Concept development, concept build, launch & management of cafes
  • Overall operations management, team building and performance management
  • Marketing campaigns, customer & partner relationships management


  • Learning & re-learning F&B from a Dubai perspective
  • Understanding to work with multi-national, multi-cultural team members
  • Adapting to a new-world & international working methodology
  • Making in-roads and establishing relationships in a new environment


The Critical Part

It was the first professional experience in an international environment in Dubai and learning the ropes of working with a cross section of different nationalities as team members as also customers.

One had to quickly adopt & adapt in doing the following within a very short time-frame :

  • Immerse into understanding all operations
  • Involve & engage with all team members to understand them, their profiles, their personalities, capabilities and draw up individual job roles
  • Understand individual concepts for development, launch, recruitment, training, marketing, finance, menu’s and target customers
  • Preparing schedules for each concept for further implementation of all key tasks and seeing them through

Launch of an iconic, large, licensed venue comprising a very stylish lounge & dining area focused on a Thai fusion theme & menu.

  • This venue created multiple benchmarks for many an outlet to imbibe, copy & follow in Dubai
  • The venue had customers queueing up in its days of prime & glory

Launch of a contemporary Sushi & Teppanyaki concept restaurant establishing a cuisine frontier with its menu.

Launch of diverse café concepts across town.

Establishing relationships with suppliers, partners, media, marketing agencies & internal associations.

The Important Part

With the launch of different venues, styles, concepts & managing diverse teams, it was extremely important to stay involved in day-to-day operations.

Getting your hands dirty is the best way to lead and there was no other way it could be done.

With such commitment & focus, the overall operations across all venues were managed with a clear direction on the following:

  • Educating, training & building key team leaders & members
  • Implementing & supervising daily SOP’s
  • Checking daily inventory, purchases, key perishables & beverage stocks
  • Maintaining daily audits, attendance systems & discipline protocols
  • Coordinating marketing & customer out-reach initiatives in a non-digital era
  • Negotiating with key partners for beverage deals, key food supplies & ongoing pricing mechanisms
  • Coordinating menu revisions, trials, promotions & customer experiences

This phase was not only very exhausting but enriching as well, thus leading to great performance, high revenues & supreme reputation for all concepts & brands being established in the market-place.

The Fun Part

All hard work done, late nights & extra hours later, the fun began.

Routine is not considered fun, but after what was such a roller-coaster ride,
regular operations actually did seem like a lot of fun.

The teams were trained and set into their mode of operations, audits were aligned, marketing campaigns being implemented well, customer experiences on the rise, revenues increasing & inching higher, it was a fun ride, to be enjoyed.


  • New territory, new country, new cultures, new ways of working.
  • Settling into working with multi-national colleagues.
  • Embracing international working styles & mechanisms.

Awards & Recognition

  • Great recognition in the form of excellent customer experiences, their feedback, media accolades, rave reviews were the hallmarks & awards won by the entire team of all the concepts.