Innovative Dining Group will be opening its first international location in the United Arab Emirates. The West Hollywood group is bringing its Boa Steakhouse concept to Abu Dhabi through a licensing agreement with the UAE’s Tourism Development and Investment Co.
The tourism company is affiliated with the government and is tasked with bringing in hotels, restaurants and museums to the UAE’s second biggest city to draw visitors. The company also will operate the restaurant, which is expected to open in late April or early May.
Lee Maen, a co-founding partner at IDG, said the tourism company sought out Boa after representatives became familiar with the brand while vacationing in Los Angeles. Maen declined to disclose the financial details of the agreement, but did say IDG will take a cut of the location’s gross sales and profits.
“They liked the restaurant and reached out to us,” Maen said. “We did a full tour of Abu Dhabi and Dubai and learned the customs. We really liked it there. We wouldn’t open somewhere just for the money.”
Training has begun for employees of the 6,000-square-foot restaurant, located about 15 minutes from the airport and close to several embassies.
One thing Maen said stood out about opening in the UAE was that only 13 percent of patrons in an average restaurant there were local residents.
“Everyone else is from all over the world,” he said. “We saw that having the brand out there would expose us to countries close by and in Europe.”
Despite its Western origins, the restaurant will adhere to the local culture. The food will meet Islamic food preparation standards and the menu will not have pork. The music played there will have a Middle Eastern flair.
Even before its first international restaurant opens, Maen said IDG is looking at other locations throughout the Middle East. The group operates 13 restaurants in Los Angeles including Sushi Roku, Katana and RivaBella.
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