Caterer Middle East

Casual pubs keep the crowds happy at Expo 2020 Dubai


For some time now, the best of Dubai’s bars and nightlife venues have been making waves on a global scale. Although food is front and centre at the Expo site, bars and pubs are garnering plenty of attention from tourists and residents, too. From casual spots like Garden on 1 and the Irish Village to high-end drinks lounges like Iris and Jubilee Mixology, operators are making the most of the crowds. Drinks venues, whether they feature football, live music, or innovative mixology with a killer view, are a big attraction at Expo as the weather cools down. Here’s how a few of them are doing a month in.

Irish Village: More covers, higher turnover

There simply cannot be an Ireland pavilion without showcasing the culture and hospitalit­y of a traditiona­l Irish pub. The look and feel of The Irish Village Garhoud has been recreated here, down to the weather vane on top of the clock and the Ballinaslo­e post of ce. It offers generously portioned family-style meals, paired with an exceptiona­l variety of drinks (the bar is stocked with 78 different beers). So, it’s no wonder the venue gets plenty of visitors every day.

The Irish Village’s general manager Dave Cattanach said: “Four weeks in and it has proven to be a great success. Although our location is somewhat off the main track, people at the site seek us out.

We thought we might have to put up a big sign on the road, but after the rst day, we realise we don’t need that sign anymore. People know where we are and they are coming to us.”

It helps that Cattanach and his owning company, Dubai Duty Free, decided to keep the offering competitiv­e.

He added: “We have kept our pricing exactly the same [as at the original] We could have put it up by 25 percent but we kept everything the same, so our customers are very happy about that.”

The happy customers are re ected in the Irish Village Expo’s high number of daily visitors, with more than 1,200 people turning up on weekends. Cattanach added: “People were queuing at the door, but the line moves pretty quickly. Visitors usually stop by for a quick lunch and pint.

“Because it’s Expo they are generally on a mission and won’t linger for a long time like they do in Al Garhoud.”

Garden on 1: The appeal of the sports bar

Another casual venue, Garden on 1, is garnering lots of attention from visitors to the site. Sister to Media City’s Garden on 8, it’s positioned as a sports lounge and a fun hangout spot in the Mobility District.

Chef Ryan Waddell, who is Media One Hotel’s operations director for Expo 2020, told Carerer more.

“It’s a very traditiona­l sports bar. Obviously Garden on 8 has done very well, so we’re bringing the same atmosphere and offering to the rst oor of the Mobility Pavilion. Food-wise it has all the classics, so it’s very simple.”

According to Waddell, there are several different ways to market the venue. “Yes, we’re looking for people coming for Expo but then ending up at Garden on 1 when there’s a game on. But, we also want people who perhaps work at the Expo to feel like they have somewhere to come to unwind after work.”

When looking at the space, it’s easy to identify the Media One ethos behind it and clearly, the customers seem to recognise and love it. “We have about 1,000 covers a day,” Waddell added. “Thankfully, Media One is very well known here and has high standards. For the generic consumer in Dubai, it gives them a name behind the brand – people know Garden on 8, so they’ll come to Garden on 1.”

Keeping the concepts alive beyond Expo

According to Waddell, Expo is a great place to test out whether certain concepts work at a permanent location later on. He said: “Expo is a legacy project, so, what we’ve created here, should be around after Expo. It’s about proving viable business models. We’re hoping to continue to operate these venues after Expo. There’s potential for our Expo concepts to be brought into other parts of Dubai if they work out.”

He also thinks the existing site could stick around: “It could become an area like DIFC with a mix of gastropubs and high-end restaurant­s. It’s de nitely got the hallmarks of a destinatio­n dining space.”

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Irish Village

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