Food, friendly customer service and a French touch to everything – from music to décor – are the key highlights of the Cassette café located at The Courtyard in Al Quoz, Dubai.
Cassette, a word of French origin meaning tape, is an apt name for the café that is a meeting point of design, music, art and, of course, food. The café offers French cuisine with an international spin. From healthy dishes to small bites and comfort foods, as well as artisanal coffee, wellness range of tea and homemade juices, Cassette has something to offer for everyone.
It has been a couple of months that Cassette opened to the public and according to owner Haider Madani, “The reaction has been overwhelming. People have said that it’s a great addition to The Courtyard’s culture. They love the food and the ambience.”
“It’s true that the F&B market in the UAE is overcrowded. A lot of places have opened. But there is still a gap in the market for certain niche places that offer quality food,” he continues. “Besides, customer experience and design are key elements for the success of a food brand. Your people have to interact with your guests with a certain sense of quirkiness. These are our strengths at Cassette; it’s like a hidden gem.”
With H2R Design as concept creators and interior designers, guests have a getaway in the Cassette café. Further, Cassette will introduce guests to a unique selection of music, with an interactive corner where they can listen to and buy limited edition vinyl. Cassette will also support local artists from the region by inviting them to bring in artwork for display and purchase.
“We have paid a lot of attention to the music; it’s very carefully curated. The sound system we have used is one of the best in the world. If you look at the ceilings it’s all acoustic; sound waves don’t bounce back. Even if the music is on, diners can whisper but will be able to hear each other. Further, we have bespoke furniture; all our couches have USB ports and plug points. People can easily charge their devices and sit around for the whole day – working or relaxing,” Madani elaborates. “That’s why, we have many people who come and spend the day at Cassette, almost regularly.”
The Cassette menu is a Parisian take in a modern world. But what is Cassette doing differently with the French cuisine, which differentiates it from the host of other such restaurants offering the same cuisine?
“French cuisine is limitless. From street food to fine-dining, it extends in every segment,” responds Madani. “And a bistro concept should offer a fine-dining experience for a café price. That’s what we are doing. A big part of being able to do that is our chefs, who all have fine-dining training. Add to that, our fresh produce – from bread, brioche buns, granola, sauces – and making every dish fresh every single day. That’s our differentiating factor. We have seen almost 30% of our customers come back to dine with us every time spending more, as a result. Initially, they used to come in for coffee, but now they come in for meals.”
Among the best sellers is the Avocado Smash made with Mexican avocado; Cassette Big Breakfast; Wild Mushroom Quinotto; and the Cassette Burger. Atlantic Salmon, Beef Bourguignon and Sticky Toffee Pudding are quite popular as well.
But to get to where Cassette stands today took two years. The journey was hard, Madani admits. “I had to pay rent, salaries and everything for two years before getting the licence to operate the café in this location. And it is a self-funded business! What also took me a very long time is recruiting the right people. I started with a general manager and head chef so they could hire the right people to work. I did at least 150 interviews to hire the right front of house people. While Cassette is my passion and dream, the food business is unforgiving. You have to get it right. We have one key strategy – maintain the high-quality and the level of service. If I can do that, the rest will fall in place.”