Dh2,500 for dinner at Tim Hortons: How The Dubai Mall restaurants are preparing for New Year's Eve

This year, dining venues at the Downtown Dubai landmark have limited seating and increased safety measures

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: Stock. Exterior general views of Dubai Mall. Saturday, February 8th, 2020. Downtown, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

With the Burj Khalifa promising a spectacular display for New Year's Eve, a number of restaurants have already put together packages for discerning Dubai diners who want their meal with a glittering backdrop.

But for front-row seats to the fireworks, one will have to be prepared to splurge.

Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, for example, will be offering a seat on the promenade of its branch in The Dubai Mall for Dh2,500, while tables on the terrace and inside the restaurant will cost Dh2,000 and Dh700 respectively.

However, for that price, guests can expect much more than just the coffee and doughnuts the brand is known for; there will be a four-course meal served, complete with soup and dessert, to go with the pyrotechnics.

Meanwhile, Din Tai Fung, which opened a branch on the ground floor of The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue extension last year, will be charging Dh2,000 per person for outdoor seating. The Taiwanese favourite also has terrace seating – with a view of the fountains only – for Dh1,200 and indoor seating for Dh1,000.

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Dec 31 , 2019 : People are taking their photos at the Tim Hortons café outside the Dubai Mall in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Online/Instagram

For those wanting to enjoy their fireworks over a steak, Texas Roadhouse has a set menu for Dh1,250 with a seat on the promenade, while burger joint Black Tap, which opened its The Dubai Mall branch earlier this year, is offering a set menu of CrazyShakes and burgers for Dh1,400 on the promenade.

South African restaurant Walnut Grove, which offers views of the Burj Khalifa from its terrace, will be offering guests a three-course menu for Dh1,800 per seat.

“As we have a direct view of the Burj Khalifa, there is always going to be a demand to be part of it, despite what has happened this year,” says Feyyaz Beduk, head of operations at Walnut Grove.

“That being said, the unpredictable nature of this year has shown us that the general public have a slight hesitation with advance bookings. We are, of course, having to adjust our usual celebrations to adhere to regulations and ensure the safety of our guests and staff."

Book early, say restaurants

While dinner with a view of the Burj Khalifa has never come cheap on any December 31, there is reason restaurants have fixed prices this year.

As per Dubai Municipality guidelines, restaurants can sit a maximum of 10 people per table, and tables that accommodate large groups should not be adjacent to other tables seating the same number of diners.

With tables socially distanced, restaurants have limited capacity for those much-prized views.

For example, Red Lobster, which offers promenade seating with Burj Khalifa views, will have 17 tables instead of the 30 it had last year.

“Due to limited seating, we do recommend advance bookings,” says Sarah Al Kandari, marketing manager at Americana Group. “Guests should not forget their wristbands guaranteeing entrance to the mall, which will be issued once the deposit is paid.”

The Dubai Mall branch of the American chain has put together a seafood spread for NYE, with packages starting from Dh500 for seat inside, and Dh800 for fountain views.

Executive chef Andres Aguilar-Aguila Loustaunau, of The Dubai Mall's Mexican restaurant Tulum, also warns people to keep these changes in mind when making bookings.

“We aren’t able to have as many people in the venue this year, for obvious reasons. Book early – especially if you want terrace views. For larger groups especially, we need to ensure there are enough tables and social distancing.”

Tulum is located on the top floor of The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue, and offers views of both the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa. For New Year’s Eve, the restaurant is planning a fiesta – complete with a mariachi band. There are different packages available, with prices starting at Dh680 per person for indoor seating and Dh1,100 outdoors.

Safety precautions in place

In anticipation for New Year’s Eve, restaurants have plenty of safety measures in place.

At Red Lobster, for example, there will be hand sanitisers on every table, two metres of social distancing between guests (unless from the same family or household) and temperature checks. Guests displaying flu-like symptoms will not be allowed entry.

Loustaunau cites similar measures. "There will be temperature checks, sanitisation of the whole venue from top to bottom, hand sanitisers on all tables and masks to be worn if going to the bathroom.

"Our tables are spaced out accordingly and we are ensuring those watching the countdown on the terrace are spaced apart. We want everyone to feel comfortable.”