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What future for Monnot Street?

BEIRUT | RAMCO - December 10, 2015, 13h39

Still a dozen years ago, Monnot Street was the main nightlife destination of Beirut. Today, the street has lost of its brilliance and was overshadowed first by Gemmayze, then Mar Mikhael, and now Badaro. It has been more than ten years that Monnot Street is quite calm. Rental values are on a downward slide and demand is shy. Its future remains a mystery.

The boom of Monnot Street goes back to the 1990s. Babylone was one of the first concepts to bet on this street, close to the old green line. The location was later taken up by Julia’s in 2003. However, the street effectively took off in 1997 with the opening of Pacifico Pub. From that date onwards, Monnot goes through a spectacular boom.

Restaurants and bars rush on the street and took over the smallest available space. Even units on the first floor and in the basement were in demand. Beirut’s night owls were thrilled. On the other hand, residents were exhausted by the noise and the traffic jams. Sharing the space was strenuous.

Today, hey-makers have deserted Monnot Street, which is no longer one of the “in” nightlife destinations. Yet, some renowned brands remain, such as Café Sho, Nonna, Pacifico, or Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. However, it is undeniable that the trend is broken. Food & Beverage professionals are reticent and prefer to invest in busier streets with a stronger potential, such as Mar Mikhael and Badaro.

Monnot Street must find a new vocation. Its geographical location at the heart of Beirut remains an advantage. The proximity of Saint Joseph University is also an asset. Newcomers must realize that Monnot proves an opportunity at a lesser cost.

The street can be an option for brands that are just starting out or, on the contrary, that already have a clientele that can follow them regardless of their address.

The lack of interest by F&B professionals has seriously affected rental values. Today, they stand around USD 250-300 per SQM for a ground floor, depending on sizes and locations. Rental values stood at USD 400-450 per SQM in 2009.

New tenants reveal a new trend in the making. A yoga studio has recently opened. French-based outdoors brand L’Aigle has inaugurated a point of sale there last year. A children’s furniture brand has opened a gallery on Monnot a few years ago. The southern end of the street still has some restaurants that perform rather well.

Finally, Monnot Street is not dead. Even though it has scrapped its past, it retains interesting potential for the future.

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