Five minutes with Joey Ghazal, The MAINE Group’s serial gastropreneur

Five minutes with Joey Ghazal, The MAINE Group’s serial gastropreneur


Having launched dozens of successful brands across three continents, Joey Ghazal, founder and managing partner of The MAINE Group, knows how to run leading restaurants. Here, the “gastropreneur” talks about his rise to the top and reveals his group’s exciting expansion plans. 

What can you tell us about The MAINE?
It’s true that the original inspiration for The MAINE was from the summers I spent on the East Coast as a child and an ode to the amazing seafood that MAINE is famous for, but with every location and every iteration of the brand, The MAINE has become a love letter to all that we hold dearest in service and hospitality.

What is the secret behind The MAINE’s success?
We have focused on delivering what people have come to expect from us — a crowd-pleasing menu, great cocktails, friendly service, a buzzing atmosphere and excellent value. We also imbued a sense of ownership in the team as we grew the business and have succeeded in creating an experience that is simultaneously warm and inviting while always resonating with a sense of event and celebration.

What differentiates The MAINE in Mayfair, London, from your other branches?
Every edition of The MAINE has been specially designed for the neighborhood and community it finds itself in. The brand has evolved organically since we opened our first location in JBR in 2015; it has become more confident and experiential, culminating in the first international outpost of The MAINE in London’s Mayfair, which is an immersive Georgian townhouse experience split across three floors. The MAINE DNA is present in every room — that sense of timeless nostalgia that transports you to a bygone era. The menu is full of our greatest hits — classic dishes are done well. The only difference in Mayfair is how we have put entertainment and live music at the center of our offering.

Why did you set your sights on the UK rather than any other European country?
I’ve had my sights set on London since I worked there in my early 20s. Returning to London to open my own restaurant years later is a full-circle moment for me. As the English-speaking capital iof Europe, the center of culture and commerce, and a very similar audience to what we have in Dubai, London was the obvious choice for us.

What industry challenges are you facing?
The biggest challenge facing our industry globally is the lack of labor. The pandemic accelerated an existing trend, commonly referred to as the “great resignation,” which has seen large numbers of people leave the sector, especially back-of-house personnel like kitchen staff, housekeepers, commis and runners.

How has consumer behavior changed?
Behavior hasn’t changed. People still expect consistency in quality and flawless service even though the whole industry is facing enormous challenges, namely the worst labor shortage in history and the highest inflation rates in decades.

Do you have any other projects you can share with us?
We just launched a laid-back west coast eatery and rooftop called Canary Club at The Banyan Tree in JLT. This is our first new brand since we first launched The MAINE in 2015. We have always focused on catering to the great communities of Dubai; Canary Club is no exception.

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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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