"In my opinion, to successfully face all the challenges F&B entrepreneurs contend with, the most important thing in Dubai is to connect with the right, relevant people in the world of marketing and the law. In this sense, we were very fortunate to rely on the support of outstanding personalities, on the benevolence of Jumeirah Group, which, as newcomers to Dubai, clearly helped us towards a better understanding and appreciation of the market.” Rizwan Kassim, a Parisian whose previous endeavors were retail and fashion-oriented, decided to bring La Cantine du Faubourg, a solid name on the well-heeled Saint-Honore dining scene, to Dubai as the outlet seemed to be the right fit for the city’s booming hospitality sector. After cultivating a relationship with the original outlet’s owners, Pierre Pirajean and Helena Paraboschi, the trio partnered up seven years ago. Here, Kassim gives his tips on what questions to ask yourself as a ‘trep in F&B, and how it related to his business.
1. Where do you want to situate your business?
“When opening a business, anywhere in the world, one of the key factors to look into is always location, location, location. When planning the initial stages of our venture in Dubai, our first and main challenge was to find a venue that would be best suited to our concept and include a terrace and a separate entrance from the property’s main entry point.
The locations we were looking at were in the downtown area as it fit the best with the roots of our brand from Paris. The location we were looking for also had to have a unique element and some form of a historical background. Upon our visit to Jumeirah Emirates Towers, we knew instantly that we had found La Cantine du Faubourg’s Dubai address.”
2. Are you paying sufficient attention to your enterprise’s logistical needs?
“There were some factors such as the supply chain that surprisingly facilitated a more seamless approach as almost everything is available in Dubai. As every entrepreneur living out here in the desert, we have had to juggle with the transportation delays of furniture and equipment.”
3. Have you brought in the right legal help?
"Obtaining the mandatory UAE licenses across beverages and entertainment was not as difficult as we anticipated, as we were fortunate enough to rely on the expertise of knowledgeable legal specialists to ease this process.”
4. Are you prioritizing your business’ human capital?
"When it came to staffing, that was a whole different ballgame. The first issue was in arranging appropriate accommodation for our team members, in a pleasant area of the city within a reasonable distance from La Cantine du Faubourg. We always ensure that our team is well taken care of, and we were also looking to provide most of the comfort you would expect from an accommodation in Dubai. It was quite challenging for us, as not many landlords here are inclined to rent out such apartments for staff members.
Our second and perhaps most important issue was in finding the right personnel and team-people with the suited skills and qualifications who would understand and abide by our values of quality service. Thirdly, the final issue we face today in Dubai is staff turnover. We therefore put the emphasis on recruiting the right people at the right time, and making sure that our team is always proud and enthusiastic about the brand and we invoke a sense of empowerment for our team to shine.”
5. Is the outlet’s layout and design in line with your local customer base?
“Further challenges we were confronted with, as many other restaurateurs, was the construction phase: how to get our suppliers to comprehend an innovative European concept and adapt it to a Middle Eastern environment. Also, as La Cantine du Faubourg relies on such key elements as music and videos, we needed to install state-of-the-art sound and light systems, resulting in a need for technical prowess at times. You have to bear in mind that we completely transformed what used to be a gym into a 270-seat restaurant... This [involved] heavy-duty work in terms of cabling and HACCP [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point] compliance, etc.”