There are 9,189 restaurants in Dubai according to Food Sheikhs latest Restaurant Review, 918 of which are licensed to serve booze. This is more than double the restaurants per capita in Manhattan NY.
This begs the question, does Dubai really need more restaurants and is the city big enough to support three branches of the famed New England Brasserie, The MAINE, which first opened in JBR almost four years ago.
The simple answer, is YES and I would even go as far as to argue that there should be more homegrown owner-operated restaurants like it, instead of those pesky high-priced celebrity imports that keep opening in Dubai.
The inspiration behind The MAINE
The brainchild of Canadian restauranteur, Joey Ghazal, The MAINE, was inspired by the summers he spent vacationing on the East Coast.
Joey, who was awarded Middle East Restaurateur of the Year by Caterer Magazine says he always envisioned The MAINE as more of a lifestyle rather than just a restaurant, which explains the expansion with the recently opened MAINE Street Eatery at the Studio One hotel in Studio City, the upcoming MAINE Land Brasserie set to open at the iconic Zaha Hadid Opus in Business Bay before the end of the year and The Maine Taco Truck, set to launch in the fall, which will serve a variety of Tacos including their now infamous Crispy Fish Tacos.
It feels like The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill in JBR was an instant success from the day they opened back in 2015, despite being located in a hotel Garage at the dead end of JBR and Joey has garnered quite a reputation for spotting the gaps in the market and for achieving success in catering to Dubai’s underserviced neighborhoods. Touted as the first homegrown New England Brasserie Company, The MAINE, has become a household name famous for its popular brasserie fare, friendly service, affordable pricing and its bustling atmosphere. Judging by the reviews, the new MAINE in Studio City is no exception and has quickly become a fan favorite amongst the 80,000 residents of Arabian Ranches, Sports City, Motor City, who have very little to choose from when it comes to licensed dining options.
They take the environment very seriously, in case you didn’t know
The MAINE Street Eatery will also be launching delivery through Deliveroo, which Joey explains will be 100% Plastic Free. An initiative that seems to be very close to his heart, Joey identifies home delivery as the single biggest cause of Plastic Waste today, and The MAINE will be “the way delivery should be”.
By the sounds of it, The MAINE Land Brasserie in Business Bay, is going to be more focused on meat, game and grill with a slightly more upscale offering for the downtown crowd, which Joey argues is still a concept that is missing in the downtown area.
Signature bevvies and grape that suit the mood
Despite the fact that each MAINE is being designed with its own unique style, you can expect some of Joey’s personal touches that are common throughout the brand, such as his obvious love for extravagant chandeliers, geometric terrazzo tiles and a big central bar with handsome mixologists that serve a variety of classic and signature cocktails with punny names like the Lady Buoy, Remember the Maine and the Bloody Shell to name a few. The wine list at The MAINE is simple and unpretentious, with bottles that range from AED 170 to AED 1000, which the bulk of the selection affordably priced in the 250 to 350 range.
The MAINE in Studio City is even more affordably priced, which Joey says was a deliberate move to localize and tailor the menu to the residents of the neighborhood.
The KIDS menu is one the adults might also envy!
There is even a kids menu, adorably called The Little Mainers and a kids play area. Nothing that happens at The MAINE is a coincidence, everything has been carefully considered to make sure that the restaurant is always buzzing. One thing is for sure, Joey and his team, know how to stay top-of-mind with daily activations, promotions and events that have become part of Dubai’s lexicon like their Clam Jam, Shuck Fest, Gin Fever and Oh My Grill !. We can only hope that restaurant developers take heed and that more owner operators step up to the plate and create their own homegrown brands.
The MAINE is definitely the new Mainstay (gettit?)
It’s no wonder that The MAINE has become such a Mainstay (pardon the pun), it seems that wherever you look, Joey himself is seen promoting The MAINE in some kind of collaboration with Remy Martin Cognac House, SuitSupply, Bloomingdales and even now on In-flight entertainment channel on Emirates airlines. He is literally everywhere and it seems to be working, at least for now.