What's New In Zaitunay Bay?

I’m so pleased with the way Zaitunay Bay has transformed. Over the course of this blog, I've been rather vocal (here, here, here, and here!) about how the restaurant strip can’t hope to succeed if it’s tailored exclusively to jet-setting tourists. Well, sure enough, the people have spoken, and by spoken, I mean they didn't give big-ticket restaurants the business they needed to remain afloat in the waters of high rental costs.

So as they shuttered, more familiar and casual dining options moved in, brands the Lebanese recognize and adore. We could have used Café Paul as an example early on in the Zaitunay Bay case study—it was arguably the only venue that consistently teemed with guests, and never once did I feel like it was suffering from ailing tourism or a stagnating economy.

Classic Burger Joint is another telling lesson. It boasts quick and easy dining; a well-reputed brand; and delicious burgers. Expectations were not dashed: CBJ has survived and thrived.

Pinkberry and Starbucks came on board last year, and they’re naturally bustling with customers. These places would do well even in the desolate Siberian tundra. There’s something inviting about consistently good coffee or confectionery in a comfortable ambiance where customers aren't even pressured to buy. You could literally waltz in to either shop, plant yourself in a chair, purchase nil, and never once would you elicit cross-examination.


Roadster kicked off the summer with a festive opening party the first week of May


Opening festivities at Roadster diner

The latest openings in Zaitunay Bay count P.F. Chang’s and Al Forno, both held by the Alshaya retail group, in addition to Roadster. While Al Forno may not be a familiar brand to the Lebanese, it offers affordable Italian cuisine with exceptional customer service—after all, it hails from the land of hospitality, Dubai. There’s nothing a few kitchen tweaks to some of their dishes wouldn't solve. As for Chang’s and Roadster, it goes without saying they’re already forming queues.


Yours truly at the P.F. Chang's grand opening last week


A narrow kiosk called Passion Juice cropped up between Moti Mahal, the luxurious Indian restaurant, and Coast, a diner concept by the Boubess group. It sells fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies and will likely become a favorite with health-conscious pedestrians who frequent the seaside boardwalk.

Ultimately, it looks like Zaitunay Bay went from being a questionable business venture resembling a ghost town to a vibrant dining hub squealing with life. I’d still change a thing or two about its constituent restaurants, but that’s a story for next time ;)


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