x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Yas Marina adds five new restaurants a week ahead of Formula One

The marina has added five new licensed restaurants, bringing the total number of eateries to seven.

The seafood restaurant Aquarium at Yas Marina. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
The seafood restaurant Aquarium at Yas Marina. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Yas Marina has completed a revamp a little over a week ahead of the Formula One race on the island.

The marina has added five new licensed restaurants, bringing the total number of eateries to seven.

“The marina opened in 2009 for the Formula One and since then I would say that the island Abu Dhabi has evolved quite a lot,” said Cedric Le Rest, the general manager of Yas Marina, which is managed by Camper & Nicholsons Marinas.

“It was decided that to cater to the growing community around the island and growing tourism within the island and Abu Dhabi, a destination like the one we are presenting today was needed, so it is why we decided to not change completely the property we had but to enhance the venue and add to the offering we had before.”

Previously the marina had two restaurants – the upmarket Italian restaurant, Cipriani, and the sports bar Stars ‘N’ Bars, but nothing in the middle.

“What was very important for us was that the new restaurants had to be comfortable and affordable. We wanted good cuisine but not fine cuisine. Cipriani is there and is doing it very well, so for us it was very important that it was affordable,” said Mr Le Rest.

The marina has now added the lounge Iris; the tapas bar and restaurant Diablito Food and Music; a French-German bakery Café d’Alsace; the Lebanese restaurant Rozanah; and the seafood restaurant Aquarium.

“There is a very nice tenant mix,” said Mario Samaha, the owner of Aquarium.

“We think that seafood and aquarium concept will [serve as an] attraction for the destination.”

Two of the restaurants, Café d’Alsace and Rozanah, are managed by one company, Royal Catering, which carries out contractual and commercial catering, operates the largest private kitchen in the UAE in Mussafah, as well as two restaurants on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche and carries out most of the catering at the Formula One race.

“We believe that the Marina and the whole development of Yas and Saadiyat Island is the future of Abu Dhabi. When we got approached for this project we were immediately very excited,” said Samer Simreen, the general manager for commercial at Royal Catering.

“They had a challenge as well. They wanted to have two outlets [in the space]. Since we have experience in the outlet management but also in the catering and we have a big production unit, we were able to come up with a design. We have a shared kitchen for both outlets.”

Mr Le Rest said he expected all of the restaurants to be inundated during Formula One, but he hoped that they would also become popular with the surrounding communities.

“We can get up to 8,000 people in [Formula One]. It’s busy and it’s booming and the atmosphere is electric. It’s fantastic. But now with the new properties, we want people to realise that they can come back,” he said.

“We’re not going to get 8,000 a week and this is not what we are trying to achieve. But if we can get a good number and the terrace full, kids playing around and people walking on the promenade, for us it would be a success.”

gduncan@thenational.ae