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Homegrown restaurant concept Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai is going global. Omar Saideh, the founder of Orange Hospitality, discusses global expansion for the restaurant and what the future holds for the group.

Can you talk us through your career history?

I started my career in the family business where I put my entrepreneurship background to practice and eventually discovered my passion for the hospitality industry. Shortly after, I decided to put up my own hospitality company and launched Orange Hospitality. My long-term vision was to expand globally and translate cultures, cuisines, and craftmanship into authentic and immersive hospitality experiences. Today, our competitive F&B portfolio consists of three unique dining concepts across Dubai – with three exciting new launches set to take place in Q4 of this year.

What inspired you to launch Orange Hospitality?

When starting Orange Hospitality, I saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the market with extraordinary culinary concepts and complement the industry rather than oversaturate it. I challenge myself to always bring something new to the F&B industry. Our concepts are representations of real culinary journeys from different parts of the world. In building our brands, we travel across countries, we study the roots, we magnify the details, we immerse ourselves, and we tell a story. With a continuously growing portfolio, we have come far from when we first launched Orange Hospitality, but our journey is just beginning.

At Orange Hospitality, we own and operate a diverse collection of food and beverage concepts.

Our reach extends deeply in the markets we operate in as we have a diverse team of hospitality professionals who have both local and international expertise. By immersing ourselves in every detail of a project from feasibility and market research to menu engineering and kitchen design, the F&B concepts we create at Orange Hospitality have a distinct niche and competitive market advantage.

Since launching in 2016, how has the brand evolved?

 

Within a span of five years, Orange Hospitality has proved itself to be an industry leader, achieving numerous awards for Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai and Alici Dubai, with Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai being recently crowned as the Restaurant of the Year in town. Orange Hospitality remains at the top of its game, not only with the launch of Il Borro Tuscan Bistro London but with an exciting line-up of new concepts set to open in Dubai later this year, Josette in ICD Brookfield and Maya Bay in Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.

Your hero brand is Il Borro Dubai. What was your aim for the restaurant when it launched in 2016?

Originating from the illustrious Ferragamo family, the Il Borro Estate in Tuscany promotes biodiversity with its farm-to-table vision. I sought to bring a piece of the estate’s rich heritage to Dubai, to showcase traditional Italian dishes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Set against Jumeirah Al Naseem’s picturesque turtle lagoon, Il Borro is a place where guests can enjoy authentic Tuscan flavours in a refined dining atmosphere. I was inspired to bring an original and elegant restaurant experience to Dubai that would make every guest leave with the desire to come back. Our success in creating unforgettable culinary experiences has been recognised throughout the years and we continue to garner accolades along the way.

Omar Saideh

Can you talk us through all of your ventures in the region?

Our growing portfolio of F&B concepts includes award-winning restaurant Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai which opened in 2016, Amalfi-coast-inspired seafood restaurant Alici launched in 2019 and recently opened homegrown chef concept Fulvio’s.

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai continues to deliver a true farm-to-table concept in a sophisticated setting. We are proud to have been recognised as ‘Restaurant of the Year’ for three years and also hold the title of ‘Best Italian’ for four consecutive years now.

With our South Italian seafood restaurant Alici, we bring genuine flavours from the southern Italian coastline to Dubai. Our culinary team, led by chef Domenico Santagada, has curated a selection of Amalfi and South Italian specialities including a wide range of raw seafood delicacies.

The latest edition to our culinary lineup is our homegrown, chef-driven Italian concept Fulvio’s. Headed by Chef Fulvio Opalio, Fulvio’s opened earlier this year at Time Out Market Dubai and focuses on wholesome, homemade Italian cuisine. Q4 in 2021 will be a very exciting time for us as we launch Il Borro Tuscan Bistro in London, our Parisian dining concept Josette in ICD Brookfield and Maya Bay in Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Dubai.

You’re now opening Il Borro in London, how did the opportunity arise to do so?

Since opening in Dubai, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro has consistently provided a world-class dining experience, and we are looking forward to delivering the same distinctive hospitality to our guests in Mayfair taking over Nobu on 15 Berkeley Street. After having successfully established our restaurants in the UAE, the global expansion plan for Orange Hospitality is the next step for us, and we are thrilled to begin this journey in the UK.

How does the F&B industry here differ from other locations globally?

Dubai is one of the most competitive and exciting food hubs worldwide and we are excited to lead the way with new culinary openings. This city has successfully established itself as a noteworthy food destination, with a wealth of both homegrown and internationally known brands. It has become a breeding ground for entrepreneurs looking to establish a presence and grow internationally. The F&B industry in Dubai is also highly influenced by rapidly changing consumer behaviour, so we are always innovating and anticipating trends to stay ahead of the competition.

How do you think Il Borro will stand out in the London market?

What will set Il Borro Tuscan Bistro London apart is the fact that it’s not just an Italian restaurant; it’s a culture, a lifestyle, and a philosophy that we take from the Ferragamo family and the Il Borro estate’s vision to promote Tuscan cuisine with the use of wholesome and quality ingredients. Il Borro Tuscan Bistro London translates these beliefs through an authentic Italian dining experience in an elegant and refined atmosphere. The restaurant will also feature an exclusive Private Dining Room overlooking Berkeley Street, giving our guests a more intimate and personalised experience. We are bringing something timeless and truly distinct to the market that is impossible to replicate.

What are the hurdles you’ve experienced during your career to date?

When COVID-19 devastated the F&B industry, our company was put to the test. Both Il Borro and Alici were forced to close as part of the government’s efforts to curb the pandemic. It was definitely challenging for all of us, but at Orange Hospitality, we made it a priority to look after our people. At a time when most companies focused on recovering their loss from the months that the restaurants were closed, we did not allow the pandemic to compromise our team’s future in the company. It did not come easy, but we have managed to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic, and I owe it to my team’s solidarity and determination.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones?

Winning our first Restaurant of the Year award during our opening year for Il Borro Tuscan Bistro Dubai was a defining moment for all of us. And shortly after opening Alici, we received multiple recognitions including What’s On Newcomer of the Year in 2019. It has been a pleasure to watch our restaurants go from strength to strength, and the awards only motivated us to strive for more and continuously improve. The key to achieving this is by constantly innovating, adapting to market changes, and investing in our strongest asset – our team.

What’s next for Orange Hospitality?

The possibilities surrounding Orange Hospitality’s growth are coming to the fore this year, with the opening of Il Borro Tuscan Bistro London, the launch of our very own Parisian concept Josette in ICD Brookfield, and the opening of Japanese-Thai concept, Mayabay Restaurant, also set to open in Jumeirah Al Naseem later this year. Our vision for Orange Hospitality is to introduce more innovative concepts to the world, take our brands global and continue to expand our footprint in every major city – Paris, New York, Riyadh and Monaco.

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Feature image: Supplied