Dubai: For Scottish expat Stuart Ramsay, Shakespeare and Co. has been part of his life ever since he moved to Dubai in 2014. But not anymore.
A sense of nostalgia has gripped several patrons of the iconic restaurant-cafe chain after it closed its branches in the UAE, which once numbered over 35.
While an official statement about the closure is awaited, many community members, who were regular customers of the chain - established in 2001 - said they would deeply miss the highly popular cafe celebrated for its timeless Victorian decor, signature culinary delights, and great service. Some of them told Gulf News they hoped that the closure is only temporary.
While many made great memories of celebrating special events at various branches of Shakespeare and Co., Ramsay was a habitué who found the relaxed ambience and delightful coffee the perfect combination for carrying out his work while he was away from the office.
“I used to go to Shakespeare and Co. three or four times a week,” he said. “I would go to the nearest branch to work and relax.”
A resident of Arabian Ranches, Ramsay visited the café branch in his community on Thursday and found it closed.
“All of the furniture was still inside. But the door was closed. I thought maybe they were renovating and closed only this branch. Yesterday, I went to the Trade Centre area and I walked into their branch in Al Saqr [Business] Tower. It was also closed and locked and all the furniture was still inside. It was like they just left the place.”
A director at Dubizzle Group, Ramsay said he went to the café for years. “I have been their patron since 2014. When I moved to Dubai, I first used to go to their outlet in Souk Al Bahar with the view of the Burj Khalifa. Then I liked the place and became a regular visitor.”
He said he became a known face for the employees in the branches that he frequented.
“Usually, I see the same staff and they would know me and the order I wanted. They had some great employees and some good managers. They were friendly.”
Elizebeth M, a Dubai resident for over 25 years, said: “The Regency-inspired interiors, cakes and coffee… Shakespeare and Co. was such an integral part of my evening out with family and friends in Dubai, over the years. And this would be true for many others.”
She added: “The staff was always very helpful, the food was good, and there was a wonderful sense of the familiar about the coffee shop. My husband and I would often visit the branches on Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah and Meadows. We will miss the Eggs Benedict, the tacos, coffee, ice cream and excellent chocolate cakes. Hopefully, it will re-open.”
Neha Shanavas, a Year 11 student of GEMS Founders School in Al Barsha, said her family was sad to know their favourite joint in the Meadows Souk, has been closed.
“We used to go there at least once a month. My younger sister, Ameya, and I are big fans of their chocolates, cakes and pastries,” she added.
The teenager said the family celebrated their parents’ last wedding anniversary at the café in their neighbourhood.
“My mum loves the ambience over there. She used to gift different types of cakes from Shakespeare and Co. The décor is stunning and we also used to sit in the glasshouse when went there for breakfast. It is so sad to know we are going to miss all that.”
Another loyal customer, Viara Bhatija, said: “The most intriguing aspect of Shakespeare and Co. is their Victorian-style tea room décor.”
The banker described their food as “impeccable” and the vibes as “extremely cosy.”
She said she used to visit their branches in Jumeirah, Madinat Jumeirah and Burjuman.
“It is a place where you would love to spend time with your girlfriends and unwind,” she added.