Eating out is springing back to life with an additional nudge spurred by the two-and-a-half days weekend in Dubai that completed a month since its implementation this year.
People from the F&B industry opine the extended weekend has been a great opportunity for a rapid recovery of the hospitality and tourism industry.
Businesses are gradually trickling back to normalcy except for a temporary wrench into the economy caused by the Omicron variant of coronavirus early this month.
Restaurant owners point out businesses are looking good with the overall sentiment now being optimistic.
Sanjay Vazirani, CMD, Foodlink Global Restaurants & Catering Services LLC (China Bistro), said, "The new weekend was a wonderful decision, and we have quickly adapted to the change. Now that Sunday is more aligned with the rest of the nations, and as Dubai increasingly becomes a melting point of world cultures, this change allows people to make more plans to indulge in the world of food and leisure. Both dine-in and deliveries have shown better revenues ever since the extended weekends got activated. We have also tweaked our promotions and offers and offer an exciting format of table d'hôte in China Bistro.
He adds, "The additional leisure time has given a boost to the lifestyle, recreation and entertainment industries in general, and we have seen a rise in boutique events at independent villas and home parties as well, which we regularly cater at.
We have seen rising footfall and revenues at our restaurants, especially on Friday evenings and lunch sales."
The longer weekend has meant a facelift in revenue, considering people now have more leisure time.
Industry experts opine residents are more confident of venturing out, as the average positivity rates for coronavirus remains low in the UAE.
Hari Kaimal, CEO, Goldmead Hospitality Services (High Note Rooftop & Lounge), says, "We are honestly a bit surprised at how quickly private businesses have switched to the new weekend format. Friday nights are the new Thursday nights."
F&B business owners underline that revenue and footfalls have marginally been higher since the introduction of the new weekend format.
He adds, "It appears like Sunday afternoons are the new universal family lunch day out, whereas, in the past, this used to be a split across Friday and Saturday afternoons. In general, most of our patrons appear to be happy with the new weekend format."
However, some with a slightly varying opinion say residents require some more time to adjust to the new weekend format.
Jugal Parekh, Director at Yummy Dosa, says, "Not all the private companies have adapted to the new weekend format, so people need more time. Many of our customers are still following the old weekend pattern. Hence Friday evenings are not as good as Thursday evenings used to be earlier. However, we are definitely experiencing an upward trend in sales on Saturdays and Sundays, with the latter being much stronger."
Parekh adds, "We are able to serve more customers with customer booking now spread over three days in comparison to two days earlier. The new weekend is definitely working in favour of F&B businesses."
Experts from the F&B sector also opine in future, this step taken by the UAE will help them align with tourist holidays from India and elsewhere, hence bringing in more business.
Rayyan Rizvi of Yoko Sizzlers says, "With the implementation of the new 2.5-day weekend, we have seen a boost in sales over the weekend. On the contrary we have also seen that with longer weekends and more outings being planned over three days, weekdays are becoming a little drier. Hence, there is a positive impact on the business weekend sales. It may have a slight impact otherwise on weekday sales in the long run. But overall, weekends are doing extremely well."
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