2023, The Year That Was: VKD Hospitality Group Co-Founders Varun Khemaney And Khalil Dahmash 2023 saw VKD Hospitality Group unveil its first homegrown concept, Honeycomb Hi-Fi, which has since gone on to be named Time Out Dubai's Bar of the Year.

By Aby Sam Thomas

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VKD Hospitality Group
Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash, co-founders, VKD Hospitality Group

Founded by Khalil Dahmash and Varun Khemaney in 2016, Dubai-based VKD Hospitality Group made quite a splash on the city's F&B scene when it launched with its first restaurant, Miss Lily's, a New York-born Caribbean concept that went on to quickly become a local sensation. It then followed up that success in 2019 by launching another New York-born concept, Indochine, a fine dining venue that was easily one of Dubai's most loved F&B spots until it closed earlier this year. However, 2023 also saw VKD Hospitality Group unveil its first homegrown concept, Honeycomb Hi-Fi, which has since gone on to be named Time Out Dubai's Bar of the Year.

It's thus not difficult to understand why Dahmash and Khemaney choose to call 2023 a bittersweet chapter for their enterprise. After all, making the decision to close Indochine's doors couldn't have been easy- this was a venue they opened just before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, and despite the number of challenges they had to face operating it during and after the pandemic, they still managed to beat the odds, and got it to make its presence felt in Dubai's crowded F&B market. "Despite the hardships, we remain grateful for the journey," the co-founders say. "Indochine gifted us incredible memories, and it shaped us into becoming even better operators."

The Honeycomb Hi-Fi venue. Image courtesy VKD Hospitality Group.

And that may well be the reason behind the extraordinary attention that Honeycomb Hi-Fi has garnered so soon after its launch, with its name popping up in just about every conversation about the most happening venues in Dubai right now. "This project had been in the pipeline for a while, making its realization all the more satisfying," the co-founders reveal. "The beauty of this restaurant lies in the community and following we've cultivated- it echoes the sentiments we felt when we first opened Miss Lily's, a reminder of why VKD Hospitality Group came to be. However, it didn't happen overnight; Honeycomb Hi-Fi required relentless time and effort. This endeavor emphasized the significance of attention to detail, and the meticulous scrutiny of every aspect of our business."

Dahmash and Khemaney are thus looking forward to seeing their existing concepts grow in the new year- but they also reveal they are working on something new for 2024 as well. "We have an exciting calendar year of events planned at both of our venues," the co-founders say. "What we are most excited about though is the launch of our second homegrown concept. We have also had this under wraps for quite some time, and we are looking forward to bringing this project to life. We can't really divulge too much information at the moment. However, you can expect the launch date to be around April 2024. Stay tuned to our socials- we will be releasing more information as we get closer to that date!"

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2023: Neha Anand, Founder And Managing Director Of Three Layer Hospitality

Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash, co-founders, VKD Hospitality Group. Image courtesy VKD Hospitality Group.

Reflections 2023: Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash share their key insights from the year that was

Adaptability is key "This year emphasized the importance of adaptability. From navigating unforeseen challenges, to adjusting to evolving customer preferences, being flexible and responsive is crucial. It's not just about surviving, but it's also about excelling during tough times."

Community connection matters "Building a strong connection with our community has been one of our keys to success. Engaging with our local audience, understanding their needs, and tailoring our offerings accordingly has brought together a sense of unity and loyalty."

Do not underestimate the power of technology "We took the initiative to introduce into our organization more streamlined ordering systems, as well as new and innovative marketing strategies. Investing in such technology enhances efficiency, and it has also helped widen our customer reach."

Related: 2023, The Year That Was: Shafeena Yusuf Ali, Founder And Executive Director, Rizq Art Initiative

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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