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How To Open A Gourmet Restaurant In The UAE

The United Arab Emirates is known for its rich and flavourful cuisine and is slowly becoming a go-to destination for food fanatics everywhere. There is no better time to open a gourmet restaurant business in the UAE than now, as the food services market in the Emirates is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.22%.

The Steps Involved In Opening A Gourmet Restaurant In The UAE

If you have a good idea and a plan of action, UAE has an environment and market that can complement your business very well. But there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when deciding how to open a gourmet restaurant in the UAELet’s have a look at the steps involved in opening a gourmet restaurant in the UAE.

1. Creating A Business Plan

This includes making wise decisions on where your restaurant will be, who it caters to, whether or not you will be using food delivery apps, and much more.

You should have a good idea of what your restaurant will be serving, the cuisine, as well as what all services you will be offering – such as dining in, take out, or delivery. Decide on your company name, and make sure you have all the details sorted out. This will make the licensing process much smoother.

2. Securing Funds

It’s essential to consider transforming your ideas into reality once you have a business strategy in order. You must allocate finances for flexibility when opening a long-term restaurant.

You should determine the capital amount as well as the recurring cost for the first six months required to open a gourmet restaurant in the Emirates.

The upfront expenditures of setting up a restaurant, such as buying kitchen appliances, working on the interiors, buying furniture, registration, and other essential things, will fall under capital amount. Similarly, property rent, price of raw materials, electricity expenditures, and employee compensation are recurring expenditures.

Once you’ve got your numbers in order, look for various options to secure funds, such as self-funding, mortgages, and capital from investors. You can also consider long-term fund options like loans, leases, or public equities.

3. The Application Process And Taxation In The UAE

You will need to get a trade license to open and operate a gourmet restaurant in the UAE. Your request can be submitted directly to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the province’s municipality or to the management authority of the free zone in which you wish to operate. Keep the following documents on hand:

  • Filled application form
  • Your passport
  • Two passport-size colour photographs

You will also need to obtain vehicle permits and a food license, depending on where you want to set up. If you want to serve alcohol in your restaurant, you will need to get a liquor license.


You must be aware of the taxes that apply to restaurants, including the VAT. Restaurants in the UAE are usually charged one or more of the following taxes:

  • Room Rate: 10%
  • Service Charge: 10%
  • Municipality Fees: 10%
  • City tax: 6 – 10%
  • Tourism fee: 6%

4. Menus

Use a menu card maker and create an exclusive menu with your head chef, utmost attention and care. The dishes should not only be palatable but also unique. Your menu could be divided into sections like entrees, appetizers, main course, desserts, or more.

You can also offer food and drink pairing to make the selection process easier for your customers. Your food may have a lot of secret and rare ingredients going into it. Make sure to market this into your publicity campaigns subtly.

5. Location

The location of your restaurant also plays a pivotal role while deciding how to open a gourmet restaurant in the UAE. Conduct thorough market research, consider your competitors and get an idea of the overall footfall at the location.

Based on the neighbourhood, you can get an idea of your potential customers. For example, locations near colleges and schools will do wonders for fast food joints and cafes. Whereas when it comes to gourmet restaurants, they should be located in a premium locale such as downtown Dubai.

Once you have decided the location, start looking for a property for your restaurant, keeping accessibility and visibility in mind. Another crucial aspect you need to keep in mind is amenities such as building maintenance, water supply, elevator, and parking space.

6. Creating The Ideal Team

You can’t afford to go wrong with hiring. Like any business, a lot depends on the staff, both cooking and non-cookingWhen it comes to gourmet restaurants, stakes are high on the food presentation and serving ethics, and for that, you need experienced staff.

Start by hiring or teaming up with a skilful gourmet chef. Gourmet chefs usually have their cooking staff. You can request the head chef to help you with hiring non-cooking staff as well.

7. Vendors

Gourmet food is unique and intricate. It is often made with rare ingredients that may not be easily available. Create a list of ingredients and start looking for them in the local market based on the menu. There might be certain ingredients that you might need to import from another city or country.  Create a list of all possible vendors who you can serve at your convenience. You should also make sure you have backup vendors in case of any emergency.

8. Equipment

Expert equipment and kitchen fittings are required to ease the whole process of food preparation. This includes equipment, like a six-burner gas cooktop, a warming drawer, a slicer, as well as a strong venting hood, and a pot-filler faucet over the range. You will also need appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and mixers. A gourmet kitchen also includes plenty of counter space for meal processing and plating.

9. Theme and Ambience

If you are looking to provide a once in a lifetime experience to your consumers with quality food, you also need to take special care of the ambience.

The décor of your gourmet restaurant should be subtle, sophisticated and accommodating. The colours should be easy on the eyes, nothing too bright or dull. The furniture should match your interiors; look for comfortable yet elegant pieces. The music should be melodious and welcoming.

10. Getting the Right Technology

There are tons of things to do when it comes to a gourmet restaurant, and it can get a little hectic at times. This is where POS (Point Of Sale) solution providers come to the rescue.

From technically managed inventory to self-ordering kiosks and touchscreen POS to cloud monitored kitchen management systems, using the right technology is vital for streamlining your operations.

Nearly 33% of people in the UAE are willing to spend AED 100-300 on a meal out. When it comes to gourmet restaurants, people are not just paying for the food but the overall experience. To provide that experience, ensure that you follow the steps above for opening a gourmet restaurant in the UAE.

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