What You Can Learn About Mastering New Markets

Updated on 24 October 2017

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What You Can Learn About Mastering New Markets From The Tashas Founder

Located near the fashionable Burj Al Naseem hotel in Dubai, the flagship restaurant, Flamingo Room by Tashas, is the latest Tashas restaurant to launch in the United Arab Emirates region and extends the brand’s premium-end boutique lifestyle formula that has kept it one of South Africa’s most well regarded eatery chains, and which is now also making serious in-roads in the Dubai market.

Key to the success of the Tashas brand is founder, Natasha Sideris‘ uncanny ability to adapt each restaurant to its location and market.

Sideris opened the first Tashas 12 years ago at Sandton’s Atholl Square. Today, the brand consists of 17 restaurant chains across South Africa. Their maiden international restaurant launched in Dubai’s Jumeirah district in 2014, followed by two more at the Outlet Village and Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi.

The Flamingo Room by Tashas, in Dubai. Images via: Instagram/Flamingo Room by Tashas

Here are 11 details that you should know about Sideris‘ new flagship restaurant that proves she is the master of market adaption. 

1. She Chose Dubai For Its Proximity and Similarities To SA
Sideris chose Dubai as the first step to Tashas‘ international expansion because of its proximity to South Africa (in terms of overnight travel) and similar timezone, Sideris told lifestyle publication, Hotelier Middle East in a recent interview.

Sharing a time zone would mean that it would be easier to maintain communication and traveling between South Africa and Dubai would be easier. Another reason was that like South Africa, shopping malls are in Dubai enjoyed as entertainment destinations, she said. This meant the restaurant would stand a higher chance of resonating with customers in Dubai as it has in South Africa.

2. She Is Hoping To Net New Customers
Tashas‘ strategy in Dubai so far has been a ‘no alcohol’ policy. However, with the new restaurant she is hoping to attract a different segment of the market, Sideris says in the Hotelier Middle East article.

“The fact that all the Tashas cafés are dry is not a limiting factor, but it doesn’t attract the people who want to have a drink in the afternoon and go and listen to some music, so I think we’re going to capture that audience. It gives us the opportunity to show that we don’t only do café-style food,” she says.

3. The Look And Feel Is 90% Dubai
The look and feel of the restaurant is one of the areas that Sideris says plays a significant role in the brand adapting to the new market. She tells Hotelier Middle East that the concept store is “90% different and 10% the same”.

“The 10% that guests will recognise in terms of the outlet’s look and feel includes the stucco and the terrazzo flooring. Other than that, the language is completely different,” she says.

4. The Menu Gets A Makeover As Well
“The homely service, the quality of the food, and the fact that all the food is made fresh to order, will stay the same, but the menu is quite different,” Sideris tells the Hotelier Middle East. The Flamingo will be serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, and menu items will range from a lobster benedict with toasted brioche to ribeye with coriander and a seafood pasta.

5. South African Design Talent Is Behind The Look
All of the stores are designed by Sydney-based South African husband-and-wife team, Neydine Bak and Dewald Struwig of B&SS Interior Design, with whom she has worked closely for many years, according to VISI.

6. There’s Also Retail Therapy On Offer
Also, there will be a retail component, with a little design store in the cafe by South African brand, Collective by Charles Greig offering customers a selection of high-end gifts, according to lifestyle publication, What’s On.

7. She Is Banking On The African Trend
African glamour is proving to be popular right now, Sideris says in another interview with Hotelier Middle East, and it’s one of the reasons for Tashas‘ success in Dubai. “I think Africa is hot at the moment and it has been for a couple of years. Anything that’s coming out of Africa that is high design is being celebrated. The traditional view of Africa is drums and African masks and curios but we have a very talented group of people in South Africa and we have a rich culture and a lot of glamorous things coming out of SA.”

8. She Is Taking Her South African Staff Along
“It’s exhausting but I’m trying to bring a little bit of South Africa to Dubai. So far, 20 to 30 staff have moved from South Africa to the UAE. They bring the Tashas culture and training with them. It is invaluable,” she says in a Sunday Times article.

9. She’s Keeping A Tight Leash
Keeping the Tashas standard high is so important to Sideris – who describes herself as a “bit of a control freak” – that she has taken equity in the stores in Dubai, she reveals in the Sunday Times article.

“I want to maintain the high standards of the brand. Going forward and when we expand further afield, it might be difficult and we may have to look at a pure franchise model,” she tells the Sunday Times.

10. The Launch Is The Result Of A Successful Test-Run
Though the Dubai branch is the first standalone venue, Flamingo Room actually had a test-run in one of the Tashas outlets in Johannesburg, Sideris says in the Hotelier Middle East article.

“I had always wanted to open a chic private-dining experience, and we did a small experiment in one of our larger stores in Sandton Square. It was a space within a space. I’m in love with Las Vegas glamour, and we created a space that was 60 seats, and it was very well received in South Africa.”

11. There Are Plans For 20 New Stores In The Medium-Term 
Sideris aims to have 10 restaurants in the UAE and 10 in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, according to The Sunday Times.

“Once we’ve settled down as we have our five stores in Dubai ready and open I think we’ll be in a position to look at stores in other regions and countries,” said Sideris. “We have been approached to go to places like Los Angeles, Sydney and London, but barriers to entry are huge. Rent, operation and labour costs are very high. The US and Australia are a bit too far and I’m a bit of a control freak. Ideally, I want to be able to get on a plane and get there or back to South Africa in eight hours.”

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