Is Lowe shutting down? Popular Dubai restaurant has closed operations and is 'thinking about its future'

The home-grown establishment, known for its kombucha on tap and zero-waste dinners, made the announcement on social media

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - April 24, 2019: Postcard: Lowe Dubai restaurant. Wednesday the 24th of April 2019. KOA Canvas, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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There’s no denying that the food industry has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As restaurants are no longer able to host dine-in customers, survival depends on online deliveries – where profits are shared between food distribution apps. While big chains can sustain themselves for months, the same cannot be said for home-grown businesses, which are feeling the pinch as the weeks go on.

Lowe, an independent eatery offering a contemporary dining experience, located at Koa Canvas Dubai, appears to be among the first popular UAE restaurants to fall victim to the pandemic. On Wednesday, 8 April, Lowe's management put up a post on social media announcing that they were taking time to think about the future.

"It’s no secret that this pandemic has hit our industry very hard. We will collectively come out of this better and stronger, but for us, we know the only way to rebuild in the future is to make a hard decision now.

"So this week, we have had to make the very painful decision to end Lowe operations while we take some time to think about our future as a business when this crisis is over.

"We are incredibly proud of the food we served, the team we built and mostly of our community of foodies that we now call friends," the post read.

In less than 24 hours, the post accrued more than 152 comments, mostly from chefs, restaurateurs and the food blogging community, lamenting the loss of a Dubai establishment that has, in a short time, gained a huge following.

“You guys are amazing. Never goodbye … we’ll see you on the other side of Covid, better than ever,” read one such comment, while another described it as “hands down, the best restaurant in Dubai”.

Foodies also took to sharing their Lowe dining experiences in the comments section and offering help in any way they can.

Broken wheat salad, crispy duck leg, toasted seeds, blood orange, spiced labneh. Courtesy Lowe

However, the post shared by Lowe ended on an optimistic note.

"While we may go quiet for now, know that our goal is to be back soon and better than ever, but right now, we don't know when this will be or what format it will take.

"We are so deeply grateful for your love and support on this journey of ours and we can’t wait to serve you again when the time is right," it said.

The brainchild of culinary duo Jesse Blake and Kate Christou, Lowe opened in 2019, and quickly garnered a huge fan base due to its fuss-free food, its sharing-style menu, kombucha on tap and a pet-friendly terrace. In short, for many, it became a millennial paradise. The restaurant was constantly experimenting, launching monthly zero-waste dinners and cooking classes where food scraps were converted into gourmet dishes.

Kate Christou and Jesse Blake of Lowe

Its announcement has come as something of a shock to the local food community, even though several have been warning that this was an inevitable outcome unless home-grown brands get more support.

Last month, food blogger Samantha Wood created the hashtag #UAERestaurantsUnite to promote offers and direct deliveries from local establishments. She also wrote an open letter to food aggregators asking that their commission rates be cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the blogger Food Sheikh in collaboration with ChatFood launched, a website to connect restaurants directly with customers, then cutting out third-party apps, and helping restaurants get 100 per cent of the profit.

"Supporting the local community is something I've always been passionate about and because of Covid-19, the industry is threatened. I'm not using that word lightly, it is going to be really tough time for small operators," he told The National.