In just two years and the half since the official launch of the first location, the Nuba restaurant on Grigore Gafencu street, in the exclusive Herastrau area, the Nuba brands gets on shores of the Black Sea, in Mamaia Nord. Aside from the glamorous inaugural party of Nuba Beach Club, which will last for three days in the May 1 weekend, how can we explain the impressive success of a relatively new brand on a hypercompetitive market that has been strongly influenced in the past year by the change in the consumption behaviors of luxury customers?

Focus on the brand

“Right from the start we wanted to build a brand. Not just a good restaurant, not just a popular club, not just services of constant quality, but all these together,” says Jean Sasu, managing partner Nuba and co-shareholder of the business together with two local entrepreneurs, Alin Negulescu and Alexandru Nanu. From the perspective of professional experience, as the Americans put it – ‘a match made in heaven’ – a perfect match. Sasu has 10 years’ worth of experience in financial management, Negulescu is one of the most experimented local entrepreneurs in HoReCa – he also owns Argentine restaurant, Bourboun Café in Baneasa Shopping City and the Breeze restaurant at the seaside, while Nanu has businesses in the media and the organization of events.

“In Bucharest, there are very good restaurants, there are exceptional clubs and top cafes. There are brands with strong results on each vertical of the HoReCa market. We wanted to be present on all, to develop the business, and this is how we naturally reached the conclusion that we needed a strong brand, not just one that is traditional HoReCa, but an entertainment one with an emphasis on lifestyle,” said Sasu.

Why lifestyle? “Because this is what our friends and customers value. Consistently or aspirationally, Nuba offers with each visit a story. We want you to say that you went to Nuba, without any other explication, and this to be enough to define their personal lifestyle,” said Mihai Scarlat, communication manager of Nuba.

The customer base comprises men and women aged 25 to 45 that go to the restaurants and clubs in the Greek island of Mykonos and Saint Tropez and don’t shy away from stepping in the large clubs from Paris, London or New York.

But still, what does the Nuba brand mean and how can an entertainment brand be perceived rather as a lifestyle one?

Investment in details

The first two Nuba locations, the restaurant from Gafencu and Nuba Summer Vibes, the restaurant opened in 2016 on the shores of Herastrau lake are complementary, the winter and summer locations. The investment in Nuba restaurant was EUR 350,000, while for Nuba Summer Vibes it stands at EUR 450,000. Both are betting on a concept that that has become very popular among the famous luxury clubbing areas, the restaurant-club. During the afternoon and evening they work as traditional restaurants. The menu is Asian fusion with Peruvian influences, included in the category of light gourmet, meaning quality ingredients used in an avangardist fashion, a first in the Bucharest restaurants market. In the night they are transformed into clubs, a natural transition, typical for the Bucharest night life, without the need to change the location. The club is not traditional rather, with an event-type approach. Weekly, it hosts themed nights, especially on Thursday, the start of the weekend for the night life, almost all joined by local or international artists.

“This is one of the secrets of Nuba’s success. Each week we offer something different, we invest in quality entertainment, we always reinvent ourselves, and the customers appreciate this,” says Scarlat.

In fact, the club event concept will be maintained for Nuba Beach Club. The three party nights between April 28-30 will be hosted, in turns, by mega-stars: Antonis Ramos, the famous Greek singer that opens and closes the seaside period in Mykonos, Gianluca Vacchi, who attened in the past Nuba event and Jean Roch, the owner of the famous club chain VIP Room.

The business perspective of Nuba group shows that the EUR 2 million investment in Mamaia Nord will consolidate both the turnover and the brand. Nuba Beach Club keeps the same features like the rest of the group’s locations, but it will be even more exclusive. Aside from the pool areas, restaurant and club facilities, it will also have a heliport so as to ease the access of financially potent customers. It might seem like an extravagance, but it’s a necessity, because the price for a helicopter price to Mamaia is smaller than the one of champagne bottles bought in the clubs from the area.

Event figures

The focus on the brand and the constant development of the business – Nuba Café from Dorobanti area was launched in 2017 following an investment of EUR 500,000 – seem to have been the bets won by the three entrepreneurs.

The evolution of the figures is spectacular. In 2015, in fact in the first months of operations, the turnover stood at around EUR 300,000 and in 2016 it reached EUR 3.5 million. In 2017, the three locations of the group had a turnover of EUR 6 million, up 70 percent year-on-year. Last year, the operational profit stood at over EUR 1 million, according to the statements of the administrators of the company.

For the current year, following the investment on the seaside, a new increase of turnover and the profit is expected.

“Considering the short season and the underdeveloped tourism infrastructure, our investment might seem risky. But we only consolidated our brand, pursuing the lifestyle of our customers. As most of them spend their weekends at the seaside, we brought them Nuba here and we are sure they will appreciate it. In addition, we wanted the Nuba experience to be accessible to customers outside Bucharest, as it is known that Mamaia Nord attracts premium customers from across Romania,” said Sasu.

In fact, the national extension is the next step in the development of Nuba, a natural step for a strong brand. Most probably, next year the first Nuba Café franchises will appear in Cluj, Iasi or Timisoara.


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