Sass Café opens in Dubai: Q&A with owner Samy Sass

Sass Cafe has been attracting the rich and famous set to its Monte Carlo location. Now, for the first time it has expanded - to Dubai.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Mar 31, 2014 - The last touch during preparations for a free tasting sessions at Sass restaurant located in Currency House, DIFC. ( Jaime Puebla / The National Newspaper ) anniversary issue
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Sass Café has opened in Dubai International Financial Centre, marking the first time in its 20 years in Monte Carlo that the glamourous outlet has expanded. We interviewed the owner, Samy Sass.

Sass Café in Monaco has been attracting a well-heeled clientele for more than 20 years. What made you decide to open your first overseas outlet in Dubai?

We decided to open in Dubai because there is real synergy between Monaco and Dubai. Both cities attract the same type of clientele - jetsetters, celebrities, tourists and residents alike, who a penchant for luxury. There are a lot people in this region that visit Monaco and love Sass Café, so it was natural to open Sass Cafe’s first oversees location here. Also, we wanted to offer a venue where people can enjoy a great Mediterranean meal followed by live entertainment and a great night out. Yes, our location in Monaco is often affiliated with celebrities and is considered a ‘go -to” spot in Monaco, but it is also a family run business (my father and I) and we wanted to bring the Sass Café culture and vibe to Dubai.

Is the Dubai location the beginning of global expansion plans?

Dubai is the first Sass Café outside of Monaco and we are very excited to open up a location here. At the moment, Dubai is the only expansion, but that is not to say we may look elsewhere in the future, like London.

A wave of new, trendy eateries are springing up all over the UAE. What sets Sass apart from the rest?

Sass Café is a different concept - I have been going out in Dubai for sometime now and I have not seen anything else like it in Dubai. Of course, we have food, lounge and a DJ, but we will also have live entertainment in the piano bar and lounge space. This is one of the components that sets Sass Café in Monaco apart and we plan to offer that same unparalleled lively atmosphere here in Dubai.

Bono famously hosted his birthday party at Sass back in 2008 and invited an array of A-list stars including Brad Pitt and Prince Albert of Monaco. Are you expecting similarly famous guests at your Dubai venue?

Of course. We will try our best. In Monaco, it is a bit different and celebrities come to Sass Café on their own - because we make them feel comfortable and they want to be there to have a good time. We do not have paparazzi following and covering the celebrities coming. Celebrities come to Sass Café because they want to. We plan to achieve the same here in Dubai. My business partner Evgeny Kuzin, (Bulldozer Group) who we opened Sass Café Dubai [with] will work with me in entertaining celebrities at the venue and of course I will mention Sass Café Dubai to the celebrities that will visit the Monaco location for when they are in Dubai. But at the end of the day, we also want our customers to enjoy Sass Café - we treat our customers like celebrities. Everyone come to Sass for good food and a good time.

With the original Sass Café in Monte Carlo, the home of the Grand Prix, do you have plans for Sass to have a presence at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this year?

At the moment, we have nothing planned. Of course we may have a themed party, but time will tell. We do not have a big event at the Monaco location around the Grand Prix. Sass Café has become an institution in Monaco and people come because they want to. So, yes, when the Grand Prix is taking place, Sass Café is a go to spot. We hope to implement that same following here in Dubai.

Have you got a favourite dish from your menu?

Filet de Boeuf a la Sassa - beef fillet with smoked garlic and tomato relish. It is one of our signature dishes.

Do any dishes on the menu have a regional flavour? Are there any dishes we can only get here and not in Monte Carlo?

The Dubai menu will be derived from the Monaco menu from the most part, but there will be some menu additions that will be exclusive to Dubai. We are still finalising the menu, but rest assured there will be some exclusive dishes to the Dubai location.

DIFC is teeming with upscale restaurants. Will you be checking out the competition while you’re in Dubai?

I am aware of them, have dined at many of them before opening Sass Café here and I am a fan of a few of them. At the end of the day, the more places you have, there is more synergy. There is no competition, the only competition is yourself - you always have to make yourself better - “Don’t’ look behind, don’t look in front, look in the mirror (at yourself)”

Can you sum up Sass Café in one sentence?

I can do it in one word - glamourous.