Emirati restaurateur Nahla Wali talks about running two restaurants in a saturated market

Dubai: “Even before I decided to open my restaurant, I knew that the market was saturated with F&B offerings,” said Nahla Wali, an F&B entrepreneur and the brainchild behind Asma Restaurant in Dubai Mall and TBK in Galleria Mall. “ I noticed that this region lacks is strong casual dining options that serve traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. With my knowledge and local background, I felt like I have something unique to offer,” she said to Gulf News.

Growing up in Dubai, Nahla always knew she loved food. “I have fond memories of my mother cooking delicious dishes that our family and friends loved. As I grew older it gave me great joy in helping her put together traditional meals for special occasions, the house filled with aromas of all the appetizing food she cooked.” Today as a mother of four herself, she continues the tradition of being surrounded by great food. “ I loved hosting people and it’s so important for me that everyone has a memorable meal. This is what led me to the path of hospitality and F&B.”

Nahla launched both her restaurants TBK, a homegrown American and Italian fusion eatery and Asma, a contemporary Middle Eastern fusion spot in 2019. They enjoyed a year of pre-covid life and business was going well.

Asma is located at Dubai Mall and thus receives a mix of nationalities visiting, while TBK is at Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road, a destination more frequently ventured by locals. “Our customer demographic for both venues is mainly the local community,” Nahla told Gulf News. “At Asma, we also get a lot of curious expats visiting who want to eat more Arabic cuisine.”

As the pandemic changed the F&B scene like never before, Asma had to adapt to the news changes. “Against all odds, we have continued to innovate,” she said. For Ramadan, she launched iftar kits at both her restaurants. The “TBK Home Kit” is a delivery-only service where guests will be able to order a selection of premade pizzas, pasta and lasagna along with ready to eat salads and a variety of sliders. The home kits are prepped and ready to stick in the oven. For Asma, she launched ‘Asma At Home’ offering Ramadan platters starting from Dh48.

“My friends and family would call me a hard worker who is dedicated to her craft. I make decisions based on my gut instinct and so far it has never failed me,” Nahla said.



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