Evgeny Kuzin moved to Dubai when he was 21 years with a dream of building an empire from the ground up. Passionate about hospitality, he made the UAE his second home and focused on bringing well-known luxury concepts to Dubai, and with that experience, he went on to focus on creating home-grown concepts. Today, he is chairman of Fundamental Hospitality.
What is the secret behind the success of your restaurants?
Every restaurant, in my opinion, must achieve the ideal mix of location, ambience and great cuisine. In Dubai, we have found that guests are looking for lifestyle-driven concepts. We learn from the international brand and adapt it to suit the local market. Venues need to be dynamic and understand, from a guest’s point of view, what is required for the experience to be memorable.
We strive to provide guests with unforgettable experiences. We pay attention to the finer details and weave this philosophy throughout every part of the concepts, from the kitchen to the floor staff and the branding right through to the messaging and menus.
It is essential for restaurants to reinvent and redefine themselves in order to stay relevant. How are your concepts keeping up with the latest trends?
While I believe that having a deep and intrinsic knowledge of the industry is essential for maintaining a restaurant, I consider that its long-term success is founded on the strength of the idea. We create concepts with the goal of long-term viability and foreign growth in mind. A brand must be consistent, timeless and attractive to a foreign audience.
Regardless of prior success, there is no space for complacency, especially in this industry; one needs to be agile, prudent and stay up to date with global and local market trends. We need to be in tune with the expectations of our guests and, ultimately, ensure every guest has an incredible experience when dining within our venues. I think it is crucial to be an innovator and create experiences that have endurance, repeat appeal and lasting permanence.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
We are constantly evolving and considering bringing in new and exciting projects. This year, we will introduce several concepts to Dubai’s DIFC: an imaginative dining and entertainment concept called Evie’s; Kigo, a Japanese omakase concept (Four Seasons DIFC); Maison La Plage, a beachside escape inspired by the history of the South of France; and La Petit Ani, a French-Mediterranean boulangerie. We will also launch the first Izu Burger Joint, in Box Park, Jumeirah; and Sirene Beach, at the new La Mer precinct.
Overseas, the group aims to cement its reputation and showcase the strength of Dubai’s culinary landscape with the launch of Gaia London, set to open in Mayfair in 2023; Gaia Marbella, which will open within the renowned Puenta Romana Hotel; and Gaia Miami, located in South Beach. Cipriani Dolci will open within Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, as well as La Maison Ani, a French-Mediterranean concept that’s set to open in London within the next year.