Woman at the forefront with Janina Wolkow, founder of Sumosan Dubai

Woman at the forefront with Janina Wolkow, founder of Sumosan Dubai

Since 2002, Janina Wolkow has been leading the team at Sumosan Dubai, a restaurant known for its innovative Japanese cuisine and exceptional hospitality. Here, we discover how she has overcome challenges to position the brand as a symbol of excellence. 

As a female entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, what unique challenges have you faced and how have you navigated them?

Challenges come for any entrepreneur operating in a highly competitive and saturated market. I believe that as a business owner, everyone goes through similar hurdles and challenges. For Sumosan Dubai, the biggest challenge was entering a very saturated and highly competitive market market. Furthermore, to excel in any new environment it’s important to hone certain skills. Additionally, it is crucial to have a strong, established network. Hence, it was very important for me to have a strong team. This consequently means a strong GM and operations manager who has in-market experience and knows what customers want and train staff based on consumer needs. The challenge with the UAE market is that high-quality food is not enough to make a venue successful. So, it’s about creating a full 360-degree experience for the customer, from ambience to entertainment, high-quality service and great food. I learned that by giving the customer what they want, they will come back. The trick is to crafting experiences that they can only enjoy inside your venue.

How has your perspective as a woman influenced your approach to hospitality?

Given Sumosan’s status as a family business, witnessing my father’s journey in the industry has shaped my path. Hospitality revolves around pleasing people, ensuring stakeholders’ satisfaction. Women tend to be warmer and more nurturing. These soft traits benefit hospitality, allowing for patience and attention to detail. This consequently fosters a conducive environment for team development and collaboration, where all voices are heard, leading to innovative ideas.

With the opening of 7EVENTY8, how do you aim to challenge gender stereotypes within Dubai’s nightlife scene?

Transitioning from restaurateur to nightlife entrepreneur presented new challenges. Recognizing Dubai’s evolving preferences beyond food, I envisioned 7EVENTY8 as an experience hub. Furthermore, collaboration with industry experts Mahmoud, Hisham and Orsu was essential to crafting a compelling concept from design to operation. Thus, challenging traditional norms.

As a female leader, how do you balance assertiveness with empathy in managing Sumosan and 7EVENTY8?

My guiding principle is kindness, omnipresent in both personal and professional realms. Therefore, instead of taking a tough line, I invest time in nurturing and guiding my team, leading by example. Moreover, by fostering a supportive environment, each member’s talents are harnessed, creating a cohesive team focused on shared goals.

How does 7EVENTY8’s concept reflect your vision for redefining Dubai’s nightlife experience?

Seeking to complement Sumosan’s offerings, 7EVENTY8 redefines nightlife by seamlessly blending Japanese elegance with modern innovation. Furthermore, the venue — adorned with captivating Japanese motifs and dragon mural — invites guests to immersive unforgettable experience, thereby setting a new standard in Dubai’s nightlife.


Website Icon png images | PNGEgg sumosan.com


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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