Celebrity Chef Vineet Bhatia has confirmed that he will pull out of Dubai’s classic Indian fine dining restaurant, Ashiana by Vineet this September.
A statement from his company to Catering News Middle East said: “At the moment we can only confirm that Chef Vineet is indeed pulling out of Ashiana by Vineet come September 2016. There is a difference in operation style and we feel it is best suited to part ways.”
Bhatia took over the restaurant, located in Sheraton Dubai Creek, in 2014 and cleaned up the greasy, spicy fare to create a more flavourful offer, however the location of the restaurant in Deira has been a challenge.
“It’s a bit slow, it could be faster,” the chef told Catering News during a recent visit to Dubai.
“Dubai is a very transient place. I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve seen it change. Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai are the hubs for entertainment but Deira has been left behind… it has been neglected a bit.
“Having said that I know there are plans for Dubai Tourism to regenerate the whole area and the renovation of Sheraton Dubai Creek has made a big impact because it has been modernised after many years. It takes time for things to settle down and come back.”
Bhatia is currently working on a new concept, which will be located in one of Dubai’s dining hubs such as Downtown Dubai, JBR or City Walk 2.
It will mark a step away from his usual fine dining approach with a more casual, family-oriented venue incorporating street food style cuisine.
“It will be a new brand and concept altogether. We’d rather do a new concept because we don’t want to be stereotyped as doing only the classics or modern and we also want to do street food style, and casual, so as a chef you wear different hats.
“I wouldn’t want to do a restaurant that competes with my other restaurants because that’s pointless. It will have its own USP and will be more casual. We want to make a larger restaurant but more family-oriented, a more casual, relaxed style,” he said.
With discussions having been underway for 10 months already, the restaurant’s opening is being earmarked for the middle of 2017.
The chef also has a restaurant in Bahrain, one in Qatar, one in Al Khobar and another in Riyadh, with a second location set to open in the Saudi capital in the fourth quarter of this year.
In addition, he is eyeing locations in Jeddah, Muscat and Kuwait for new concepts, and is in discussions for further projects in Doha.
“Muscat and Kuwait are quite big markets in the GCC and I just think the kind of cuisine we do is well appreciated.
“It’s a natural progression to move into places like Kuwait and Oman because people from the GCC travel internally very frequently, and they like what we do,” he commented.
Bhatia will continue to operate his first Dubai restaurant, the 11-year-old British style Indego by Vineet in Grosvenor House Hotel, which is still performing well. “It’s a very mature restaurant and it has achieved exactly what we envisaged for it,” he said.