Zaitunay Bay Continues to Show Signs of Slumping

If you ever want to gauge the strength of the tourism sector in Lebanon, head down to Zaitunay Bay. Built on 20,000 square meters of prime waterfront land, the commercial complex is open year-round to greet consumers and amblers alike who revel in its bayside location. 

We’ve known since day one that Zaitunay Bay was designed with the affluent tourist in mind. The original slate of restaurants counted among them the extremely upscale, like Salmontini Riva, Zabad, Amarres, Cro Magnon, and Signor Sassi. Now, the only high-end dining institutions that remain are Moti Mahal, Babel Bay, and Karam Al-Bahr.

So what’s shuttered in the most recent months? Sadly, Haagen Dazs is no more, and I’m not sure if that’s because competition from the latest frozen treats entrant Pinkberry melted away some of its clientele or if that debut is unrelated. Grid, the urban coffee shop whose two outlets in Beirut Souks are thriving, also shut down its full-service kitchen. Unsurprising to me based on my first and last dining experience there just five months ago, CRO (formerly Cro Magnon) closed it doors.

Classic Burger Joint shut for renovations but is expected to reopen this week, incidentally.

What’s set to open? I saw signs for a place called Al Forno due to open where Grid once stood. I’d never heard of it before, but a quick Google search reveals it has a few outlets across Kuwait and UAE. Kampai, the swanky sushi restaurant in Beirut Central District, may open a second branch at Le Yacht Club, next to Blu Port. But the whole project looks like it may be on hold, as I haven’t noticed any progress in the past several months.

Then what remains? Coffee shops abound: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks, Paul, and Cappuccino. There’s Indian cuisine: Moti Mahal. Lebanese comprises Babel Bay and Karam Al-Bahr. Casual includes Lina’s, Cozmo Café, Pomodoro Pizzeria and St. Elmo’s Brasserie. Confectioneries count La Maison de la Gaufre and Pinkberry. And the convenience store C.Bliss holds its spot along the arc of eateries.

What a pity Zaitunay Bay continues to slump in the face of Lebanon’s ailing tourism. I would hate to see this charming quartier come totally undone. 

Zaitunay Bay (photo credit:


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