Bloomberg News

Hakkasan to Open in Four U.S. Cities as Restaurant Goes Global

December 14, 2011

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Hakkasan Ltd., the Chinese- restaurant business that holds a Michelin star for each of its London sites, plans to expand across the U.S. next year, with venues in four cities.

Outlets are planned in four cities: New York, on West 43rd Street; San Francisco, at One Kearny; Los Angeles, on North Beverly Drive; and in a hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, Chief Executive Niall Howard said in a telephone interview. Hakkasan already has restaurants in Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Hakkasan is known for stylish restaurants, with staff members dressed in designer outfits serving mainly Asian-themed cocktails and Chinese dishes with fine ingredients and high price tags. It was founded by Alan Yau, who created Wagamama, and purchased four years ago by Abu Dhabi-based Tasameem group.

“You wouldn’t know there was a slowdown,” Howard, 56, said. “Our restaurants are sold out all the time. I think that people might go out less, but when they do go, they want something special. Yes, we have fewer corporate customers, and they are more cautious, but we seem to have more international guests.”

Hakkasan also owns Yauatcha, a midmarket Chinese restaurant that Yau founded in London, and Sake No Hana, a Japanese establishment that he helped create. The company wants to add an up-market Japanese brand -- with an outlet in London next year - - and is in talks to build an Italian restaurant business, Howard said, declining to name potential partners.

There are also plans for Hakkasans in Shanghai and Doha.

The aim is to create a global food-and-beverage business with four regional hubs: the Far East, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Hakkasan will have quality restaurants catering for different sections of the market, Howard said.

“It’s like a BMW, with everything from the 7 Series down to the 1 Series: From fine dining to midmarket and possibly to fast food,” he said. The first overseas Yauatcha just opened in Mumbai. There is a U.S. Hakkasan in Fontainebleau, Miami Beach.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Mark Beech, Catherine Hickley.

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines at rvines@bloomberg.net or Richardvines on twitter.com/home.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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