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 location
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.
- The opening
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.
- The fear
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.
- The layout
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.
- The chat
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.
- The posts
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.