FROM DUBAI TO THE UK
Away from the peak of Jebel Jais, Clague still has two Rüyas to run. Splitting his time equally between Dubai and London.
“I think I’m in the air more than an Emirates pilot,” he jokes. But all seems to be going well, despite difficult conditions.
“The market is very difficult but we’re up 10% on where we were last year so we’re doing pretty good. Rüya London is smashing it. The feedback is exceptional. Apart from the Guardian, the Guardian hated us,” he laughs. “But apart from that everybody else has been good. Tommy Hilfiger has been in, Arsenal have been in, lots of chefs from London have been in several times. Jason [Atherton], Gordon [Ramsay], they’ve all eaten there and they’re very happy. So if you can keep Jason and Gordon happy then that’s good enough for me.”
Clague says the timing worked out well for the opening of Rüya in Mayfair, with a large Middle East population in London over the summer who knew the brand from Dubai.
“We were probably the busiest restaurant in London for the first three months of opening. We had every royal family from the Middle East and it was packed lunch and dinner. Now it’s getting the locals back, but so far we’re going to turn a profit this month so that’s pretty spectacular.”
The biggest challenge is trying to educate a local populace who don’t respect Turkish cuisine as Clague feels it should be respected.
He says: “Obviously it’s a very popular cuisine in London but most people just think of kebabs with garlic mayonnaise after a few jars. Taking it to the next step is what the owners want. They see, and so do I, Turkish food up there with French, Japanese. It’s just taking it to the next level.”