Updated: Apr 17, 2022
While the pandemic was a hugely challenging time for many organisations in the food and beverage industry in Dubai, TFG Hospitality could navigate a relatively smooth path through the turmoil and come out the other side with a renewed energy for the future a slate of exciting new F&B openings.
Through bold decision-making and expertly thought-out concepts, TFG Hospitality recorded growth during a pandemic that sent shockwaves through the hospitality world. The group expects to grow from 15 outlets in pre-pandemic Dubai to 35 before 2022.
However, Brendan McCormack, TFG Hospitality’s Vice President of Food and Beverage, admits lockdown inevitably took its toll on the business.
“April to August 2020 were tough times as the industry in Dubai effectively shut down, but it allowed us to reset,” he explains. “There’s always opportunity throughout challenges and recession. We reconceptualised a lot of new venues and repositioned our existing portfolio. Of course, it was very challenging, but it was quite a good time.”
Despite the pandemic, TFG Hospitality launched the famous Spanish restaurant Lola Taberna Española at Tryp by Wyndham and refurbished Soluna Restaurant and Lounge in the same hotel. Millennium Place marina also received a revamp with the addition of a hit Japanese izakaya-style restaurant Ikigai with regional culinary sensation Chef Reif Othman as a consultant.
McCormack adds that swift action from UAE authorities helped the F&B industry bounce back from Covid. “The way the Dubai and UAE government handled the pandemic was exceptional,” he says. “They were very decisive initially, which meant we could recover much quicker.”
Reflecting on 2021, McCormack calls Q4 “outstanding” and says it was “probably one of the best quarters we’ve had since 2014” as Dubai customers eagerly ate out to resume familiar social habits. Expo also certainly helped, says McCormack, who says, “Dubai was busy.”
Keen to maintain this encouraging momentum, leadership at TFG Hospitality aims to open yet more F&B outlets by the end of the year, emphasising homegrown concepts to satisfy the appetite of a proud Dubai population.
“In the last five years, we’ve seen the community within Dubai embrace restaurant concepts created in the city,” explains McCormack. “I think we’re producing concepts in Dubai that can match anything internationally, exciting.”
A brand to look out for, he says, is Risen, the artisanal cafe and bakery from TFG Hospitality that made its debut at Millennium Place Marina in January 2022. Now, Risen is set to welcome six more branches before the end of this year.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel, and people want to come to Dubai because they feel safe here,” McCormack concludes. “I’m very optimistic about where we’re going,”
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