Keeping Up With Zaitunay Bay

A stroll along the Zaitunay Bay boardwalk last night confirmed how markedly the facade of restaurants and outlets has morphed since its opening over two years ago.
The upscale Italian eatery Signor Sassi has followed the path of its ex-neighbor Amarrès and closed. Zabad and Salmontini were two other fine dining institutions that once were and are no longer. In fact, it seems Salmontini’s original location in Sofil has also shuttered.
What has opened? Last year, Pomodoro Pizzeria, part of the Boubess Group, as well as [GRID] Le Resto, a so-called urban café owned by Beirut Hospitality Company, began operations. Maison de la Gaufre is another relatively new outlet, housed next to CRO, which was rebranded from CRO MAGNON Steakhouse & Bar. Gaufre is a take-away shop serving Belgian waffles. A convenience store by the name of C.Bliss has also popped up, selling magazines, snacks, and bottled drinks.
Next to Classic Burger Joint, wall posters prominently display Starbucks and Pinkberry’s imminent openings.
Anyone else catching on to the trends? Swanky, expensive eateries are bowing down at the feet of casual, moderately-priced restaurants and coffee shops. People want informal, accessible, and cost-effective. There’s no apparent preference for the origin of these businesses. They are split between local establishments (e.g., [GRID] and Pomodoro), international chains (e.g., Starbucks and Pinkberry), and one regional enterprise (e.g., Maison de la Gaufre).
The final tally looks like this:
·         Lebanese & Seafood
o   Babel Bay
o   Karam Al-Bahr
·         Fine Dining
o   Moti Mahal
o   CRO
·         Casual
o   Cozmo Café
o   Pomodoro Pizzeria
o   St. Elmo’s Seaside Brasserie
o   Classic Burger Joint
·         Café
o   Lina’s
o   Paul
o   Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
o   Cappuccino
o   [GRID] Le Resto
o   (Starbucks)
·         Confectionery/Convenience Store
o   Maison de la Gaufre
o   Haagen Dazs
o   C.Bliss
o   (Pinkberry)
In other words, now less than one-fourth of the spaces are high-end food outlets, while the majority of square footage is enjoyed by cafés and casual eateries.

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