Updated on Oct. 7 with news about other Cheesecake Factory branches in Qatar
Popular American family restaurant The Cheesecake Factory will open what will possibly be its first outlet in the country at the Mall of Qatar, its franchise operator has said.
It is among 32 new eateries and stores that have just been confirmed to set up shop in the US$1.2 billion (QR4.37 billion) mall, which is expected to open next fall.
Cheesecake Factory could make its Qatar debut at MOQ alongside homeware store Pottery Barn.
The mall will also have Debenhams, H&M, Top Shop, Mothercare, Bath & Body Works, American Eagle Outfitters, PF Chang’s and Shake Shack, M. H Alshaya Co. said in a statement today.
There are already branches of the Cheesecake Factory in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
The new stores and restaurants will collectively take up 18,000 sq meters of space in the mall, and will join other confirmed outlets including what will be Qatar’s first Hamley’s toy store, which was announced in August.
It is not known if all these stores will open their doors when the mall officially opens, or if they will launch later.
“Qatar is an important and growing market for us and we are very pleased to partner with Mall of Qatar to expand the range of retail, café and dining choices that we can offer to customers,” John Hadden, senior vice president of Retail Property for Alshaya, said in a statement.
Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson added that another Cheesecake Factory branch is expected to open at Villaggio Mall once its extension is completed. Alshaya is also eying Doha Festival City as another location to open a restaurant.
Mall of Qatar is being built to the west of Doha near Al Rayyan Stadium on the Dukhan Highway, and is slated to be one of the country’s largest shopping centers.
During construction, its price tag has increased from the $824 million (QR3 billion) originally forecast, and its timeline has been pushed back from the previously estimated early 2016 opening.
Its rescheduled launch date means it is set to open around the same time as Qatar’s other under-construction mega-mall, Doha Festival City, which is north of the capital on Al Shamal Road.
As well as competing with established malls, MOQ will also have to vie for customers with other new shopping complexes such as the US$1.25 billion Place Vendôme in Lusail, which is slated to be completed in the third quarter of 2017, and the upscale Al Hazm center near Landmark, which is eyeing a soft opening by the end of this year.
In total, there are around a dozen malls either in the planning stages or under construction in Qatar, real estate services firm DTZ said earlier this year.
These projects will collectively triple the amount of retail space here, which some observers predict will lead to an oversupplied market and vacant storefronts.
However, analysts predict it is the older malls that will suffer the most, and Mall of Qatar has previously said it is already 80 percent leased.
In addition to shops and restaurants, it is also planning to have a 19-screen cinema, a glass-roofed “oasis” area inside the mall, and children’s mini-city KidzMondo adjacent.
The child-friendly $25 million (QR91 million) project will feature more than 70 scaled-down businesses in an 8,000 sq meter, two-story complex designed to resemble a town, including a central plaza, fire station, clock tower, police station and hospital theater.
Children between the ages of two and 14 years old would be able to act out a variety of everyday jobs as well as some of the roles in space, technology or energy which might exist in the future. Supervised by staff, they can earn a salary in the complex’s dedicated currency, and use it to shop in some of the on-site stores.