Jad Aboujaoude, a passionate Lebanese F&B entrepreneur and the founder of Elements Hospitality, is known for his expertise in bringing innovative concepts to life. With ambition and dedication, he firmly believes that life is too short for ordinary pursuits. In an interview with Hospitality News ME, Aboujaoude shares the story behind his latest venture: Salmon Guru.
How did it all start?
Two years ago, I founded Elements Hospitality in Dubai with the goal of creating new concepts, acquiring franchises and representing international brands in the region. In 2021, while exploring the streets of Madrid, I stumbled upon Salmon Guru hidden away in a quaint corner. To my surprise, there was a long queue of around 40 people eagerly waiting to enter the place and try their incredible cocktails, and it was only 5 PM. It was there that I had the pleasure of meeting Diego Cabrera, the owner, and experiencing firsthand the venue’s unique cocktails. Impressed by the quality and creativity, I sealed the deal that same day by shaking hands with Diego to acquire the franchise for the region.
What makes Salmon Guru unique?
Salmon Guru is known for its distinctiveness and exceptional qualities. Each drink is carefully crafted with precision and artistry, offering a one-of-a-kind taste experience. The brand exudes a playful and vibrant personality that adds an element of fun and quirkiness to the cocktail bar scene. From the whimsical decor to the witty presentation, every aspect of the experience is designed to captivate and entertain guests.
Salmon Guru has also garnered numerous accolades and recognition in the industry. It has been consistently ranked among the top bars globally and has received prestigious awards for its innovative approach to mixology and bar design.
The Salmon Guru Dubai branch boasts a unique bar design unlike any other in the Middle East. The venue features three distinct spaces, including a classic tropical bar, an Asian night market-inspired area and a comic-themed section, creating an immersive and visually stunning atmosphere.
At Salmon Guru we aim to provide guests with unforgettable experiences that go beyond just sipping cocktails. From themed events to interactive elements, there’s always something exciting happening at Salmon Guru to keep guests coming back for more.
To summarize, Salmon Guru’s particularities lie in its inventive cocktails, playful brand personality, award-winning reputation, unique venue design and commitment to delivering exceptional experiences to its guests.
What are the main challenges faced and how did you overcome them?
One of the main challenges we faced was the intense competition within Dubai’s vibrant F&B industry. To overcome this, we focused on showcasing the distinctiveness of Salmon Guru. We emphasized our innovative cocktail creations, unique flavors, and memorable customer experiences. By consistently delivering exceptional quality and creating a one-of-a-kind brand identity, we were able to differentiate ourselves and attract a loyal following.
Another challenge we encountered was navigating the saturated market with numerous dining and entertainment options. To address this, we conducted an analysis to identify gaps and opportunities. This enabled us to develop creative concepts and experiences that set us apart from the competition.
Following trends was also essential. The F&B industry is dynamic, with evolving consumer preferences and emerging trends. We embraced these changes by continuously innovating our menu, introducing new and exciting cocktail offerings and enhancing the overall guest experience. By staying ahead of the curve and consistently delivering what our customers desired, we were able to stay relevant and maintain a competitive edge.
Building a strong and cohesive team was another critical factor in overcoming challenges. We placed great emphasis on attracting talented and passionate individuals to join our team. We invested in their professional development and provided a positive work environment that fostered growth and collaboration. By empowering our team members and recognizing their contributions, we built a dedicated workforce that consistently delivered exceptional service to our customers.
These strategies have allowed us to thrive in a competitive industry and establish Salmon Guru as a go-to destination for a vibrant and unforgettable F&B experience.
How did you celebrate your first anniversary?
We commemorated our one-year celebration in a truly special way. On May 27, we hosted an exclusive event, where we invited some of our valued guests to join us. It was an honor to have the founder of Salmon Guru, Diego Cabrera, come specifically to be part of this momentous occasion and celebrate with us.
In addition, we marked the occasion by offering a unique and bespoke drink created by the talented hands of Diego Cabrera himself. To get their hands on this exclusive creation, guests had to give our bartenders the secret code: “against the current.” It was a delightful way to engage with our customers and provide them with a special experience.
Salmon Guru’s first-year anniversary is more than just a milestone; it’s a celebration of a year filled with innovation, creativity and recognition. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in this short time, and we look forward to many more years of delivering exceptional experiences to our customers.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
We have exciting plans on the horizon. In Dubai, we are currently working on a new nightlife concept set to open its doors in October 2023. Additionally, in Lebanon, we have two upcoming venues. In July, we will be launching Nama, a beach bar restaurant located in Jounieh, and in October, we have another project in the works — a lounge restaurant in a truly iconic location in Beirut.