In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, full-service restaurants were forced to close their doors to eat-in customers in order to curb the spread of the virus. During this period, players in the category had to adapt to conditions in lockdown by reaching their customers in other ways.
The number of cloud kitchens in the UAE continued to increase in 2020, as cloud kitchens are particularly well suited to the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they do not have eat-in sales to lose during the outlet closures. Many companies with full-service restaurants expanded into cloud kitchens in 2020 for this reason.
The Oven Market, based in Dubai, placed in the top ten finalists of the new concepts contest in 2020. The concept, which was eventually launched in November 2020, appeals to the growing number of home cooks in the UAE.
The recovery of full-service restaurants will depend heavily on the return of tourists to the sheikhdom in the forecast period. Players in this category rely heavily on sales to tourists – more so than many other categories of consumer foodservice.
Demand for kosher food (where food production is certified by rabbis) in the UAE is expected to increase over the course of the forecast period, especially in full-service restaurants. This is due to the UAE-Israel relationship normalisation which was formalised in September 2020 and will be noticeable once the travel industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the forecast period, full-service restaurants expects to see more initiatives aimed at creating sustainable foodservice workplaces for full-service restaurants operators. This will help operators to provide an exceptional service to their consumers and will also drive growth for players in this category.
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