More restaurants on Qatar’s flagship Pearl development are expected to close as they struggle to maintain revenues amid an island-wide ban on selling alcohol, analysts have warned.
Restaurants have seen revenues slump by almost 50 percent in the wake of the ban, which has already seen the closure of several outlets and forced a number of operators to abandon plans to open new eateries.
“Restaurants that cannot easily adapt their menus and concepts to a clientele that appreciates a purely dry offer will only be able to survive a few months more. I feel sure that other restaurants will follow suit [and close down],” hospitality analyst Guy Wilkinson told Arabian Business.
Several international firms have scrapped plans to open new restaurants in the wake of the ban, which was introduced in January. US-based Ruth’s Chris Steak House said in June it was about to sign a deal for the Pearl-Qatar, but pulled out at the last minute when the ban was imposed.
“The volume of the expats [in Doha] is the bread and butter and we need to cater to them. Not everyone will like to have a $100 steak with a glass of grapefruit juice,” said Michael Szczepanski, general manager at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Address Dubai Marina.
British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay closed down his Maze Doha restaurant in March, after just two years of operation.
Restaurateurs operating on the development said they had seen revenues decline as much as 50 percent in the last six months.
“In Qatar we are suffering – business has dropped almost 45 percent and unfortunately there is no indication about the ban being lifted. It is very unfortunate for us and for the entire Pearl [project],” Raffaele Ruggeri, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Italian chain of restaurants, Bice, said.
The sale of alcohol in the Gulf state brings with it certain responsibilities and restaurants that rely on the sale of alcohol may need to adjust their plans, said Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, head of hotel advisory, for MENA at Jones Lang LaSalle. “There are responsibilities that go with an alcohol licence,” he said.
“The case of The Pearl came as a reminder that there were lines not to be crossed. I am sure that the hospitality industry and the tourism authorities in Qatar in general will know how to find a reasonable and sustainable solution to the situation. In the meantime, the business plans of some restaurants on the Pearl might need to be adjusted,” he added.