Hotel & Catering News ME hosts online discussion on ‘UAE Restaurants Bouncing Back’

by Dina Maaty | Published 5 months ago

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Hotel & Catering News Middle East has hosted its second webinar, addressing some of the toughest challenges facing restaurants in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this webinar, key industry players discussed the short-term steps businesses and suppliers can take to respond to the disruption resulting from the global spread of COVID-19 ─ looking ahead towards longer-term solutions for survival and recovery.

• Could COVID-19 prompt a total strategy transformation?
• What vulnerabilities and shortcomings has the pandemic exposed?
• How are restaurants and suppliers ensuring an above-and-beyond approach to hygiene?
• Will diversified sourcing and digitisation be key to building stronger, smarter businesses?

Speakers in attendance were Naim Maadad, Chief Executive & Founder, Gates Hospitality, Raffaella Campagnoli, Founder & Managing Director, LIRA Strategy Partners, Omar Shihab, General Manager, BOCA, and Reif Othman, Chef & Founder, REIF Japanese Kushiyaki.

“It was an absolute delight to be on the expert panel – and as always during the good times as well as times of challenges we’re now in. It has been a privilege to communicate, exchange ideas, discuss best practices and share experiences learnt during the pandemic,” says Maadad.

“Happy to see the brands in the industry doing their bit and fighting the battle in the best ways feasible. With the Middle East Restaurant Association (MERA) launched, which has been in the making for 30 months now as an initiative discussion, we thought this was the most apt movement to launch the entity. MERA is aiming to frame the agenda for the industry and will provide help, advice, and information to business owners and other members of the food and beverage fraternity – from the top to the bottom,” he adds.

“A non-profit organisation, MERA will act as a centre-point to connect and promote F&B stakeholders as well as curate the agenda for the UAE’s restaurant industry. In addition, it will also seek to help and advice concerned industry participants. A platform for innovation, coordination and education – MERA endorses sustainability, responsibility and food safety, while ensuring longevity, and ultimately, helping curate a better future for the wider F&B industry. Thank you for inviting me as a panelist and looking forward to many more in the future.”

“The webinar discussion pointed out four opportunities for MENA to face the challenge,” says Campagnoli. “Togetherness – one single outlet cannot survive the challenge by itself. Synergies within the industry are needed for streamlining the value chain and more negotiation power with suppliers and providers.”

“Digital enablement is a must – starting from the ordering and delivery to outlet flow re-engineering, as well as analytics platforms enhancing demand and material forecasting. Plus, flexibility is needed – which means agility in general, but especially on labour contracts, so to keep up with productivity levels and allow SMEs, as an example, to co-employ labour.”

“Finally, a new way of consuming – F&B outlets have to face the new consumption habits in an open way. Eating at home is representing not just a pick up or delivery opportunity, but also a new business model (restaurants could deliver raw or semi-raw materials instead of ready-made food),” concluded Campagnoli.

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