How To Start A Local Cuisine Restaurant In The UAE

Start an authentic local cuisine restaurant

The local and traditional food in the UAE is often referred to as Emirati cuisine. Popular in and outside the UAE, the idea to start a local cuisine focussed restaurant is always a hit among tourists and locals alike. 

The city of Dubai, often known for being one of the most popular hubs in the modern world, is also famous for offering a range of traditional foods for its residents and tourists. The authentic cuisine of UAE shares various similarities with the cuisine of neighbouring countries like Omani food, Saudi Arabian food, and some Asian food as well. With globalization, modern Emirati food is now an amalgamation of elements of other food cultures, resulting in a fusion that is enjoyed by the people and widely accepted. 

Steps To Start A Local Cuisine Restaurant In The UAE

The staple ingredients of Emirati cuisine include lamb meat, mutton, beef, fish, and rice spiced up with cardamom, saffron, and mint that give the authentic Emirati cuisine its distinct flavor. To start an authentic cuisine restaurant in the UAE, keeping some critical factors in mind is essential. 

We have compiled some of the key factors that will help you get started with exploring the Emirati cuisine in your new restaurant business and attract a bunch of locals and tourists. 

1. Creating A Menu 

Before you open an authentic local cuisine restaurant, the first step would be curating a menu and deciding what it would feature. Unlike any other restaurant, where deciding the menu is one of the primary factors, the menu becomes the deciding factor around which the entire business plan revolves for an authentic local cuisine restaurant. 

If the USP of your restaurant is the menu that you’re offering, you will have to pay extra attention to how you engineer your menu and price the items to cover your prime cost. 

What is Prime Cost? Prime Cost is the total of the Cost of Goods Sold and the Labor Costs. This is 60% of the restaurant’s total sales and represents a bulk of the restaurant’s expenses. This cost can be optimized to increase profits by the restaurant owner.

You will also need to craft your menu by incorporating menu descriptions and placing the high-profit items at visible places to draw the most attention so that your customers voluntarily order higher-priced items. And eventually, you can keep updating the menu once you have enough feedback and customer experiences, and based on what your competitors are doing right! 

2. Deciding The Location 

After deciding on the kind of menu your authentic local cuisine restaurant will have, the next step is to finalize where you will open this restaurant. Finding the appropriate location to start a niche restaurant is key to boosting your sales and increasing the number of returning customers. 

This decision does depend on the funds you have and the format you choose for the restaurant. An authentic local cuisine restaurant will work best in an area frequented by the tourists more than the locals. The locals will voluntarily visit such a place, but tourists will be drawn to experience the Emirati cuisine. 

We have listed below some factors that will affect where you decide to open your restaurant. 

  • The theme or format of your restaurant – in the case of a local authentic cuisine place, your menu and theme are already finalized. 
  • The target audience of your restaurant – primarily tourists and locals interested in exploring authentic Emirati cuisine.
  • Your budget and proximity to vendors – sourcing the material is essential. You wouldn’t want to open a restaurant where sourcing raw material exceeds your budget.
  • Competitors – look around for competitors in the area. Having too many similar restaurants in one place reduces your chances of an increased footfall in your establishment. 
  • Connectivity and ease of access – you want people to keep coming back to your restaurant and not just have a one-time experience. 

Start an local cuisine restaurant

3. Obtaining Licenses

Obtaining the required licenses is critical to opening any restaurant business in the UAE. Before finalizing a spot in your favourite location, you will need to procure two types of licenses in the UAE to open a restaurant. 

Trade License 

You will need to mention the kind of restaurant you’ll be opening as mentioned in the license. The Department of Tourism & Commerce market is responsible for providing the Trade License. It can cost around AED30,000 to AED40,000, depending upon several factors. 

Food License 

Once you get your Trade License, you will need to procure the Food License to get approval for the construction of your restaurant. You might need to provide a copy of the trade license and an interior design layout of your restaurant premises. The Food Safety Department provides the Food License in the UAE.

4. Investing In Technology

The next most important investment after you have obtained the required permits to open an authentic local cuisine restaurant in your desired location, you will also need to consider investing in the right technology. 

This will help you ease out your work and juggle multiple tasks in the long run without the scope of any significant errors. To run the most efficient restaurant, a good and efficient POS system will help you manage 2 of the most critical functions of any restaurant. 

Stock & Inventory Management

To run an authentic local cuisine restaurant can be tricky. You might always be under the impression that since most of your produce is locally sourced, it will always be available. Though you are right, easy availability can let your management be laid back, leading to losses. Manage your inventory levels efficiently and check how much raw material is required or available at present. This will help you effectively manage your capital and prevent any loss. 

Easy Billing

With a good POS system, you can perform billing operations without any hassles. Relying entirely on a POS system eliminates room for any errors, analyzes the customer’s preferred mode of payment, and also develops any loyalty program offers if applicable. 

Start by curating the menu for your restaurant, then decide the location, and get the necessary license to start an authentic local cuisine restaurant. Additionally, investing in the right technology will save your day and go a long way in making your new authentic local cuisine restaurant a big success. 

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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