Zaitunay Bay's Transformation Continues

As your self-appointed reporter on happenings around Zaitunay Bay, today I bring you the latest on recent and forthcoming restaurant openings.

The beautiful seafront district, lined with over a dozen restaurants and coffee shops, has seen more than its fair share of changes in the three years since it debuted. In fact, only 10 of the original 17 venues have stood their ground. There’s Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Babel Bay, Cappuccino, Paul, Moti Mahal, Cozmo Café, Classic Burger Joint, Lina’s, St. Elmo’s Brasserie, and Karam al-Bahr. Others including Cro-Magnon Steakhouse, Salmontini Riva, Amarrès, Zabad, and Signor Sassi—all fine dining spots—shuttered.

The Alshaya Group, founded in Kuwait in 1890 and presently figuring as the largest retail group in the Middle East, introduced Zaitunay Bay to Starbucks and Pinkberry just a few months ago and will soon be launching the third branch of PF Changs where Amarrès used to be. Italian ristorante Al Forno is also slated to open by Alshaya.

I’ve heard some hush-hush talk about Cheesecake Factory coming to Zaitunay Bay, too, because the space initially reserved for it in Beirut City Centre was insufficient in size and capacity.

The Boubess Group freshly unveiled Coast: American Grill & Bar where CRO used to be. It doesn’t seem that the décor is much altered, and truth be told, the concept strikes me as unnaturally similar to its predecessor. Last Friday night saw Coast totally empty, while sister restaurants Pomodoro Pizzeria and Cozmo Café were abuzz with diners.

I rather like the altered face of Zaitunay Bay. I prefer the relaxed aura fostered by coffee shops and casual dining outlets to the stiffness of swanky five-star restaurants and their pricey fare. If you want Zaitunay Bay to be bustling with business, then make it accessible to more than just the top 5% wealth owners in the region. Looks like the Beirut Waterfront Development Company, which owns and operates the commercial center, is finally catching on.


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