Hospitality Operators That Changed The Game

November 2022

Dining out is never going to become a thing of the past. But what will, is gimmick like concepts, which once the novelty has worn off, have very little in the way of brand longevity.

Our Managing Director - Steve Humpherson - is here to discuss restaurant operators that have changed the game, including those who have created brands which will live long into the future.

Having personally worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, in my opinion there is nobody who has shaped the hospitality industry more than the world renowned Nobu Matsuhisa.

It is now 35 years on since Nobu San took out a $60,000 loan in order to open his own restaurant in Los Angeles called 'Matsuhisa'.

in 1989, he was approached by actor Robert De Niro and collectively, after 5 years of negotiating, they finally launched the first ever Nobu in Tribeca, New York in 1994.

It would be this significant moment that not only changed the life of Nobu Matsuhisa, but the iconic moment which shaped the world of dining into what is is today.

More than ever, there are an abundance of restaurants opening not just within London and around the UK but across the globe and the art of Japanese cuisine is currently one of, if the not the most popular worldwide.

It is almost certain that any Japanese restaurant that has opened in the last 30 years will have drawn influence from the phenomenon that is Nobu Restaurants. Many of whom have become huge successes in their own right, including the likes of Zuma, Roka, Coya, Hakkasan, Sexy Fish to name just a few.

At the time of writing this, Nobu operates 57 restaurants and 15 hotels worldwide. They have become a global success and as a company, they have truly revolutionised the way we eat today, expertly curating menus which retain their core brand identity while also subtly embracing the flavours and cultures of each country it continues to open in.

Quote from Nobu Matsuihisa

Also cementing themselves firmly in the hospitality hall of fame is the iconic Soho House & Co (formerly Soho House Group).

Founded by Nick Jones in 1995, Soho House originally started as a secret club set above his French restaurant Café Boheme.

Today, Soho House & Co consists of 36 houses across the globe with 12 in the UK, 13 in North America and 11 across Europe and rest of the world. They have truly shaped the Private Members sector into a multi-billion pound industry.

But aside from appealing to cool, creative, young city types through its rooftop pools, eateries, lounge working spaces and varied hotels, the Soho House brand consists of much more than just its members-only properties.

Soho House also owns and operates over 15 standalone restaurant brands across the globe and even has a thriving e-commerce business through Cowshed and Soho Home.

Soho Beach House, Miami

But what makes Soho House & Co so successful is not its varied membership packages or its incredibly fragrant hand lotion, but their global food & beverage operations.

Whether it be Electric Diner, High Road Brasserie, Hubbard & Bell, Pizza East, Chicken Shop, Cafe Monico or the iconic Cecconi’s, the Soho House & Co team have expertly created a diverse portfolio of restaurant brands to suit every kind of customer regardless of whether they are a member or not.

They have perfected their brand so much that between 2021 - 2022, they increased their UK-based club memberships from 45,277 to 54,764 (20%) and other memberships (Soho Works, Soho Friends, Home+) tripled from 12,012 to 32,013 (167%).

With a launch rate of approximately three new clubs per year, the future seems to remain inevitably bright for Soho House & Co.

And finally, it is not just about luxury brands. There are many operators in the casual dining and QSR sectors who have equally changed the game within the industry.

Most notably in the QSR and delivery sector, German Donor Kebab have taken the industry by storm since launching in the UK in 2014 and self proclaims that they have 'revolutionised the kebab across the globe'.

GDK first launched in Berlin back in 1989 and after a decade of perfecting its product went on to launch in Dubai in 2008. It was in the Middle East where they would then further develop their brand and offering before heading to back to Europe.

The company's ambition for growth gathered huge pace in 2017 when the Sarwar Family took over as ownership.

Quote from Imran Sayeed

Chairman, Athif Sarwar set himself a hugely ambitious mission of growing German Doner Kebab into the world’s number one kebab brand.

Looking at their currently stats, Athif Sarwar has achieved just that. Today, there are currently 116 sites in the UK with a further 9 in UAE, 4 in North America and 9 in Sweden.

With a huge number of additional sites currently recruiting ahead of launch, there is no stopping the rate in which the brand is expanding on a global scale.

Written by Steve Humpherson

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