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Interview: Natasha Sideris on Flamingo Room’s regional expansion

The acclaimed restaurateur is opening two new restaurants in the GCC

CEO and founder of Tashas Group, Natasha Sideris grew up in the restaurant business by her father’s side. After completing her BA in Psychology at Wits University in South Africa, Sideris continued her career in the franchised restaurant business and soon realised that there was a huge gap in the market for a simple, unthemed, day-time concept where customers could enjoy stunning food in beautiful environments with world-class service. The first Tashas was opened in Atholl in 2005.

Now, 16 years later, there are 15 Tashas in South Africa and six locations in the UAE. Each Tashas location is inspired by a place or a time that’s reflected in both the menus and the design of each individual venue. Sideris has also created three other concepts: Avli by Tashas, Galaxy Bar and Flamingo Room by Tashas, which is currently expanding its footprint in the GCC region.  Connecting Travel met with Sideris to find out more.

Connecting Travel: Tell us about you expansion plans for Flamingo Room.
Natasha Sideris: We’re opening branches of Flamingo Room by Tashas in both Riyadh and in Abu Dhabi. Our venue in Riyadh will be in the buzzing neighbourhood of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia’s foremost historic and cultural city, perched on the Bujairi Terrace, nestled on the banks of the Wadi Hanifah riverbed. 

The new Riyadh restaurant will be housed in a three-storey building, inspired by indigenous Najd architecture

It will feature four distinct concepts: Flamingo Room by Tashas; the African Lounge, a new concept with a décor that draws inspiration from the wilds of Africa; the Stargaze Garden, an elaborate, al fresco dining space and luxury retail outlet Collective Africa. In Abu Dhabi, we will be opening our doors at the luxurious the Galleria mall on Al Maryah Island. This will have three spaces: Flamingo Room by Tashas, Afrouge bar and Collective Africa boutique.

CT: Why is now the right time to expand?
NS: We opened Flamingo Room in Dubai in 2017. Thankfully, it has been a success from the day we opened. After five years, we’re still going strong and feel there is more scope to expand our footprint. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have grown exponentially in the past few years becoming energetic and diverse cities with cosmopolitan culture. This, coupled with finding iconic locations in both cities within buzzing and glamorous neighbourhoods, makes a perfect match for our expansion.

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CT: What initially attracted you to Dubai’s culinary scene?
NS: Expanding into Dubai was our first foray outside of South Africa. We found a great partner for the region and, given how hands-on we are, it was important that it was easy to travel between Johannesburg and Dubai with a minimal time change. The bigger attraction is that it has a culinary scene that is incredibly dynamic and competitive that pushes me and our team to constantly innovate. It’s not a market where you can rest on your laurels, and I like a challenge!

CT: Has confidence returned to the hospitality market?
NS: I have never seen the F&B scene thriving as much as it has in the past year. There are new brands entering the market and existing brands are very busy. There are also a lot of homegrown concepts emerging, which is fantastic.

Flamingo Room by TashasFlamingo Room by Tashas

CT:  How would you describe the Flamingo Room concept?
NS: Flamingo Room is particularly close to my heart because it is influenced by my South African roots. It displays the rich tapestry and soul that Africa has. Not through the cliché of drums and ethnic motifs, but by showcasing its glamour and amazing flora and fauna. It is the epitome of old school dining with a contemporary twist. The menu takes its inspiration from the classic and long-standing restaurants in London, Monaco, New York and Paris. Reinforcing my love of Africa, Collective Africa, a beautiful retail space within the restaurant, offers stunning treasures sourced from all over the continent.

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CT:  What have been the keys to Flamingo Room’s success?
NS: The first is our menu. We focus on classic dishes with a contemporary twist. While we are constantly innovating, there is a sense of nostalgia that people relate to. As well, the interior design of the space is unique. We also have an incredible team that have a deep understanding of hospitality, which keeps our guests coming back time and time again. Lastly, with Collective Africa nestled within the space, our guests can not only dine but also have a wonderful retail experience.

Our location at Jumeirah Al Naseem has been key to our success

Calamari MozambiqueCalamari Mozambique

CT: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from the pandemic?
NS: The biggest lessons I learned are to make sure that we constantly focus on operational efficiencies and take care of our biggest asset, our people.

For more information, visit www.flamingoroombytashas.com

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