Amid the rise of homegrown brands and community-driven restaurants and F&B concepts, we talk to Necip Camcigil, owner and founder of One Life Kitchen, located at the UAE’s fashionable Dubai Design District (d3) on their decision to become a licensed enterprise, as well as their expansion plans.
Why did you decide to become a licensed concept—why, according to you, was this year the right time to do that?
Our off-peak times have always been evenings and weekends, and over the years, we have worked quite hard to activate these times. As our customer base is fairly diverse and slightly western skewed, we felt that alcohol would be an attractive addition to our proposition.
This year was the right time, because we’ve really been improving other areas of our business for the last five years now, and we felt this would really fill out the concept and take it down a new and innovative route.
What advice do you have for other restaurants and community cafes that are thinking of taking the plunge and becoming licensed?
Definitely know your customers, and understand whether the addition of alcohol would be a positive or a negative thing for the majority of them. Don’t expect that being licensed leads to additional sales overnight, have a plan to distinguish yourself from the many offers in the market, and make sure to define the vibe you are trying to create in the evenings once you have a license.
Was becoming licensed a way to adapt to the changing market trend?
It’s just one of those things we hadn’t considered when launching- it didn’t seem necessary, to be honest, but after a while, you realize there are different consumer segments looking for different experiences in the evenings, and serving alcohol seemed to be a much better fit for us in the evenings.
What can we expect from One Life now that you are licensed?
We’re looking to do a lot of themed nights and weekend activations that show off the versatility of the concept and the chefs, with wonderful food being paired with great wines and cocktails. We have always been about creating an experience for our guests that goes beyond food, and I believe we’re now in a position to explore a lot more opportunities.
What expansion plans do you have for the future?
By the end of 2021, we will be opening in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) neighborhood in a great co-living project called the hive. I absolutely love the concept, and I believe it will be the first of its kind in the UAE. From our perspective, I also love that it allows us to once again become embedded in a community, as we have been in d3. I believe our strength lies in our ability to be one with the community we serve, and if you look at what we have achieved in d3, not only have we built a loyal customer base who we know on a deep level, but I also believe we have allowed our community to shape who we are and what we offer. I look forward to the same in JVC, but I also think that after that, we will probably look overseas to see if we can replicate the same sort of results in a completely different market.