The MAINE’s Founder, Joey Ghazal, parses a new demographic and ventures to the blissful Balearics as he opens MAINE Ibiza.
Set on the verdant landscape of a restored 18th-century finca, this homegrown concept is at the forefront of F&B with a thoughtful and customer-centric approach.
What was the catalyst that inspired you to enter the F&B industry?
I started as a busboy in a restaurant in Montreal when I was 17 years old, so it feels like I’ve always been in the industry. I would say my big Aha! moment was in 2005 when I was hired as Director of Marketing and Development for a large Canadian restaurant company – selecting locations, designing spaces, doing concept, menu development, and branding, I really started to understand F&B as a business. I started to enjoy being part of the creative process a lot more. It took another five years before I had the confidence to start opening my own restaurants, but there’s a lot to learn and you have to pay your dues.
Aside from your ventures in Dubai, MAINE also opened in Mayfair, London. What sets MAINE Ibiza apart from your other concepts?
Every MAINE is designed to be a reflection of the neighbourhood it finds itself in. The MAINE Ibiza is totally unique because of its location in a UNESCO-protected Natural Reserve. It’s the only restaurant in the group that is entirely outdoors and designed in a way that embodies the beauty and tranquility of its surroundings. The MAINE Ibiza is located in an 18th-century parish belonging to the church of Sant Francesc and we wanted that monastic and brutalist aesthetic to play into the design, the furniture, the uniforms, the branding, the ambiance, the cocktails, the crockery, and the flatware.
What is key when launching in an international location?
It’s very important that each MAINE is tailored to suit the location, instead of trying to force a pre-determined aesthetic into a space or a place that doesn’t want it and where it doesn’t belong.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered and how did you overcome them?
The challenge with scaling any business is resources and more importantly how you transfer that knowledge and passion to the new recruits. We have our own online training and development platform which allows our 400+ team from all over the world to access the same information and this levels the playing field.
The MAINE offers an unrivalled menu with thoughtfully sourced ingredients. How challenging was it to source these?
Ibiza has an abundance of locally grown products and ingredients, so it was a lot of fun creating the menu from what we were able to find on the island. The tomatoes, the root vegetables, the wild greens, the herbs, and the salt from the salt pans in Salinas make every dish sing.
What are the must-try hero dishes at MAINE Ibiza?
There are a few dishes that are unique to MAINE Ibiza, such as the chargrilled artichokes, the fatty tuna belly, the sticky short rib, and the already infamous tomato carpaccio made from local tomatoes and herbs.
You’re very hands-on and built everything yourself from the outset. What did this teach you?
It’s all about creating a complete experience that is rich in detail and originality and resonates with a sense of authenticity and timelessness. I’ve learned over the years that achieving this comes from practicing restraint and embracing the natural and raw imperfections as part of the beauty.
What do you like most about Ibiza?
Ibiza attracts a wide spectrum of people and the island is the energy that the people bring to it. You can have many experiences here, from wild parties to long lazy lunches, and romantic escapes to spiritual enlightenment.
What other spots would you recommend to friends when visiting Ibiza?
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few months here, I’ve discovered so many hidden foodie spots like Nudo, Es Torrens, Juntos House, Cala Llahsa, to name a few.
This is The Trailblazers Issue – as a restaurateur, how do you hope to change the way we dine in future?
It feels like the restaurant business is going through a ‘more is more’ phase and I crave simpler pleasures, so I see myself charting a course back to a more classic approach of dining when everything is designed in favour of the guest.