News

The res­tau­ra­teur, pre­vi­ously of Tom & Serg, hopes to bring his mi­das touch to the cap­i­tal

Caterer Middle East - - Contents -

Ser­gio Lopez opens San­der­son’s in Abu Dhabi; News from around the GCC; Russo’s Pizze­ria plans ex­pan­sion; More The Noo­dle Houses com­ing soon.

A well-es­tab­lished name on the Dubai F&B scene thanks to his work as part of the Tom & Serg duo, Ser­gio Lopez has set his sights on the cap­i­tal with his lat­est restau­rant con­cept San­der­son’s.

For his first venue in the UAE since split­ting with for­mer part­ner Tom Ar­nel, Lopez has tapped up two of his pre­vi­ous staff, head chef Troy Payne and restau­rant man­ager Sumi Payne, to help create San­der­son’s which fo­cuses on nu­tri­tious, sus­tain­able, and bal­anced food.

Speak­ing to Caterer Mid­dle East, Lopez said: “I’ve wanted to do some­thing in Abu Dhabi for years, but the Abu Dhabi mar­ket is a bit more dif­fi­cult. You need to find the right lo­ca­tion: if you are in the Cor­niche peo­ple from Khal­ifa City are not go­ing to drive all the way to you, but they will drive to Dubai for the whole week­end.”

For­tu­nately, Lopez and his team were of­fered a lo­ca­tion at The Walk at Al Seef Re­sort & Spa by An­dalus Abu Dhabi which they in­stantly thought was per­fect for the type of con­cept they were try­ing to open. Some­thing which couldn’t be shoe­horned into one box.

Head of the front-of-house team Sumi Payne told us: “This project is a very spe­cial one for me as it em­bod­ies a lot of the things I love about good food and cafes and res­tau­rants as well. It’s a re­ally bal­anced menu but it has a very easy, coastal kind of vibe to it.”

Lopez said that San­der­son's is a mix be­tween “Ibiza restau­rant on the beach meets LA juice bar” with the name meant to evoke a stereo­typ­i­cal, guy-next-door sur­name.

While most restau­ra­teurs are look­ing to Dubai to open their con­cepts, the San­der­son’s team are ex­cited about tak­ing their skills to the cap­i­tal, and head chef Troy Payne doesn’t be­lieve that they are go­ing to a culi­nary back­wa­ter.

He said: “Okku started there [Abu Dhabi] and came here [to Dubai]. Zuma started there and came here. There’s a mis­con­cep­tion that in Dubai they know about food but in Abu Dhabi they don’t. It’s wrong, they do. They love food up there.”

It’s been al­most 18 months since Lopez split with Ar­nel, in what he says was a “busi­ness but also per­sonal de­ci­sion. In four years we opened seven res­tau­rants, had great suc­cess, but some­times you want to do some­thing that is more per­sonal to you”.

Now he seems to have found that with his new team at San­der­son’s.

(L-R) Sumi Payne, Ser­gioLopez, and Troy Payne

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