Dubai: Business lunches are back in business (and how)
Variety in items, easy on the pocket, light on the stomach are just a few key elements to get the business lunches right
When the pandemic hit, it not only hit businesses hard but also business lunches. Yes, one predicted that the business lunches may go out of business. But they’ve made a comeback and how. We made a few stopovers in Dubai between noon and three pm to find out what’s cooking during those hours. "Historically, people are more inclined to go out for dinner rather than for lunch. However, I believe that business lunches are as important as dinners. During lunch hours, there are a lot of deals available leading to guests having the opportunity to try out new dishes at a reduced price," said Roxane Auriel, general manager, Couqley French Brasserie, Dubai. She added, “The revival of the business lunch starts with a good offer where we are now witnessing several medium to high-end restaurants all over the city offering great deals during the week. Such business lunches are beneficial to both the clients as well as the restaurants where we can see an added daily revenue of at least 15 to 25%.”
It's important to offer a vast variety of menu items at the best possible price, without strongly affecting the cost. For a set amount of time, I don’t mind having a busy service, with higher food costs as I know the more generous, we are, the more repeat guests we will have. At the end of the day, we need to remember that in our business hospitality is generosity.
Roxane Auriel, general manager, Couqley French Brasserie
So, what led to the revival of the business lunch?
“The rise of working from home and taking a step back from social spaces during Covid-19 meant that business lunches were impacted significantly. With that in mind, the appetite for going out more and eating at restaurants and bars has dramatically increased since then and more people are looking at utilising business lunches as a good way to connect and socialise with friends and colleagues,” said Alessio Ruffoni, general manager, Mama Zonia, Dubai Marina. After the summer break, things are finally coming back to life around the city. "Business lunches have become more prominent as they are seen to be the ideal place to conduct less formal client meetings. Also, let’s not forget that we are surrounded by many residential buildings, where residents can also experience Basko’s business lunch in a fast and affordable way," said Roger Marti, general manager, Basko, Opus Tower, Business Bay, Dubai. Federico Bartoli, head chef, Monno Ristorante, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, points out a significant reason that has led to the revival of the business lunch, "People now feel safe to go out due to the decrease in cases and all the hygienic procedures adopted and maintained by restaurateurs since the pandemic began."
As companies have returned to the offices after having worked from home (over the pandemic) leading many employers and employees to use business lunches as a break from the office. They provide a slightly more relaxed feel to the ‘nine to six’ day job!
Alessio Ruffoni, general manager, Mama Zonia
Talking menu, things to keep in mind
Basko offers two different options for business lunch, a classic quick menu and a premium offer with items like Sea Bass with avocado, citrus and basil ice cream, the Steak with padrón pepper, chimichurri, etc. "This helps diversify the clientele, for example, those preferring longer lunch meetings versus a quick delicious lunch for the patrons in the area," added Roger. As per Alessio, the business lunch menu should always offer a good mix of dishes to please an array of individuals’ palates so that everybody feels catered to, “The menu should also always be the best value for money and at Mama Zonia, we provide a three-course set menu to leave our patrons feeling satisfied.” Every week, patrons can sample their business lunch starting with a Miso Shiru before choosing a starter between Tuna Roll, Salmon Poke, Avocado Salad, and Beef Tataki. As the lunch progresses, guests have the options of Sunset Seabream, Black Pepper Beef, and Flat Rice Noodles as a main dish. "We understand getting out of the office is difficult most times, therefore, we ensure the business lunch service is as efficient as possible. We also ensure our dishes are light and fresh, so clients can get back to work and power on for the rest of the day,” added Roger.
The city is booming now more than ever, with everyone getting back to working in offices. Business Bay is thriving with potential clients actively looking for a space nearby to relax during lunch, enjoy beautiful cuisine and even close a deal over a delicious meal.
Roger Marti, general manager, Basko
Variety is the key
“Portions and calories is the key— remember that people have to go back to work so business lunch shouldn’t be a heavy meal,” points out Federico. Also, he feels that it is important to offer a variety in the menu, “For guests visiting for business lunch usually work in close proximity to the restaurant, meaning they may visit regularly for lunch so will want a variety of dishes on the business lunch menu so they don’t get bored of what’s on offer.” At Monno Ristorante, a three-course meal includes starters of Classic Crispy Calamari or Fig Salad; with the main options like Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto and Burrata, a modern take on the much-loved lasagna, and pizza options of Burrata and Margherita, etc.
Business is alive and well again in Dubai, and those working are on the lookout for places to enjoy a quality lunch that doesn’t break the bank.
Federico Bartoli, head chef, Monno Ristorante
Keep in mind!
Clients want to discuss business as usual in a calm, relaxed setting. This is why music is such an important factor when planning a business lunch offer.
Ensure tables are nicely spaced apart so clients can converse privately.
Keep it light, fresh.
(As told by Roger Marti, general manager, Basko)
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times