A facelift for F&B

After an 18-year stint reshaping the Middle East’s F&B landscape, Andrew Joyce has shifted to Vietnam, where the founder of B&B Ideas Group has set his eyes on revamping the region’s dining and drinking space

How do you work with the hospitality industry?
We are experienced F&B consultants with collectively 55 years’ experience in the service and hospitality industry. We consult on projects in the luxury segment and full-service segment hotels and deliver quality restaurant projects, working with leading individuals in the industry.

We additionally support owners by seeking out partnerships with other passionate leading F&B individuals, developing F&B strategies and coordinating development from the ground upwards to opening. Over the next five years, we are looking to expand from the Middle East further into South-east Asia and Vietnam as restaurant creators and strategists by working on hotel and restaurant projects that are signed and under development.

What trends have emerged in Vietnam’s F&B sector?
In my opinion, Vietnam is one of the top Asian destinations that will go through a fundamental change in F&B in the next few years due to rapid changing consumer trends and urbanisation in the country. The youth of Vietnam are pushing change here, especially in the F&B scene.

Cooking local is an emerging trend. Although this is quite prominent worldwide, I don’t feel historically restaurants in Vietnam have capitalised on the incredible produce that is available. I believe this will change as consumers demand to know the origins of produce. Since being in the country, I have discovered so many new local products that are incredible but quite unknown. I think Vietnam’s F&B industry should celebrate the incredibly diverse products available here.

Vegan dining is on the rise. In Ho Chi Minh City’s districts 7 and 2, you will find so many vegan restaurants. However, once you step out of these areas, it becomes bleak. Danang itself lacks strong, quality-driven vegan or healthy-dining restaurants. This will change as more people focus on health and sustainability, and demand grows.

Why is it important that hotels develop a strong F&B brand?
For decades hotels have felt a rise in guests exiting hotels to go to the street to find restaurants and bars. Hotels lack edge and modern character, which I call the “F&B Mojo” when it comes to dining. Hierarchy and red tape prevent hotel F&B teams from expanding and being creative.

I have worked on this question for years within corporate hospitality by changing the strategy and working on a more diverse street approach to F&B strategy within hotel public spaces. Partnering with local brands, or regional chefs who have succeeded in standalone restaurants, by working with them in hotels makes the overall in-house approach more appealing to guests externally and internally.

What projects are you working on?
Wafaifo Resort Hoi An is a 134-key hotel and we are in the process of design and build. The hotel will open in 2Q2024. B&B Ideas Group is responsible for the F&B strategy creation, supporting the design and build process, and helping launch the F&B strategy with the hotel operations team.

B&B Ideas Group is currently working on the 334-key Waldorf Astoria West Bay in Qatar, where we are the owner’s F&B representative and support. Additionally, funded by the owner of the Waldorf Astoria, we are creating a new luxury brand called Muru on the fifth floor with chef Mauro Calegreco and designer Lazaro.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see in Vietnam’s F&B sector?
Without a doubt, Covid-19 and lockdown. Vietnam, like all countries in the world, went through an incredibly tough time and I don’t think anyone was unaffected. The F&B and hospitality industry was hit hard. Many workers left the industry through lack of confidence and reliability of work. At present, finding quality F&B staff remains tough.

So many restaurants, bars and nightclubs closed permanently, and the industry suffered immense damage, with huge amounts of money wiped off. Rebuilding the industry and regaining confidence will take time.

What is your future vision for B&B Ideas Group?
To keep finding new opportunities in Vietnam and South-east Asia. I believe we are small, versatile and adaptable to what is happening in the scene here, and we can make a tremendous impact working with emerging hospitality companies, hotels, and restauranteurs.

I witnessed the creation of the F&B industry in Dubai. When I arrived in the city, it was pretty lacklustre and hotel restaurants and bars dominated the scene. Now, the change is incredible and Dubai is one of the leading F&B cities in the world.

I believe our experience working in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), especially Dubai, allows us to bring this experience and dynamic approach to the region. One thing I learned in Dubai is that nothing is impossible through hard work, determination and a very open-minded approach to “you can build anything”.

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