Opening a high-end restaurant in Dubai can be a perilous business. Such is the saturated marketplace in the emirate for world-class restaurants, many fall by the wayside, up and relocate or don’t do as well as they perhaps should. Zuma Dubai, despite some inevitable ups and downs, has become a mainstay and go-to high-end restaurant for sushi and food lovers. 10 years after opening, the founder of Zuma, Chef Rainer Becker, takes us through a decade in Dubai.
The first time I came to Dubai and saw the proposed restaurant location in DIFC, I wasn’t sure. There was nobody here, literally nobody. But I thought it people come for lunch and like it, they will come back for dinner. I was confident.
We opened in 2008 and – boom – the crash happened. I wondered if we should put it on hold. The world was changing, but I asked my business partner if he was going out to dinner that night. He said he was. I thought, people won’t stay at home, they will still go out.
Every restaurant opening I have doubts, but I believe it will work. It’s the positive fear of failure – you need to have that. You can’t be over confident, even after 18 years. We still put our heart into every opening.
Restaurants are all about energy, and that’s largely to do with the layout. I believe in feng shui and the energy of places. For me, energy starts when you see the building. When I saw the empty building in Dubai I felt it had good energy.
People in restaurants today have their heads down looking at their phone – it’s alarming. I see families, with kids on iPads and the parents are on iPhones. It reminds me that when I go out, I should focus on my family.
Instagram does not affect the way I make dishes – no, no, no. I should not talk about Instagram. I love it for commercial uses but I have zero posts. I follow my restaurants and that’s it.