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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Adam and Sam Kaye, Tasty

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Adam and Sam Kaye, Tasty

Overall ranking: 59 (ranked 74 in 2010)

Restaurant ranking: 19 (ranked 22 in 2010)

Adam and Sam Kaye – Snapshot


Brothers Adam and Sam Kaye founded the Ask and Zizzi chains of Italian restaurants, which they have since sold, and are now operating Tasty, the holding company for dim sum chain Dim T , which is headed by chief executive Jonny Plant. Trading from five London locations, and also Winchester, the six-strong chain was founded in 1993 and floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2006. Tasty also owns eight Wildwood pizzerias.

The financial results for the year to 2 January 2011 put the company in the black for the first time. Revenue was up 15% on last year to £10,560,000 (2009 – £9,185,000). Operating profit before pre-opening costs and non-trading items was £528,000 (2009 – loss £84,000). Pre-opening costs for the period totalled £294,000 (2009 – £58,000). The overall statutory pre-tax profit was £244,000 (2009 – loss £2,080,000).

Adam and Sam Kaye – Career guide

Adam and Sam are the sons of Garfunkel’s founder Phillip Kaye, who is a Catey Special Award winner and could lay claim to being the “godfather” of casual dining in the UK. His backing contributed to the success of both Ask and the Prezzo pizza group founded by his nephew, Jonathan Kaye.

Having identified a gap at the quality end of the pizza and pasta market, the Kaye brothers opened their first Ask restaurant in London’s Belsize Park in 1993 to instant success. The chain floated on the Alternative Investment Market in September 1995 at 35p per share. They launched the more upmarket Tuscan-style Zizzi brand in 2000, followed by the first of three Jo Shmo’s US diner-style grill restaurants in 2003.

A friendly £168m takeover bid from Garfunkel’s owner City Centre Restaurants (now The Restaurant Group ) was superseded in January 2004 by a £213m offer from the venture capital firms that bought larger rival PizzaExpress the year before.

The Kaye brothers served for a while as directors of Ask under the new owners. However, they had already taken their first steps towards their new venture in August 2003, when they bought the Dim T restaurant in Hampstead, which had opened in 1993.

A £2m share placing in June 2010 saw the Kaye family tighten its grip on Dim T, with Sam acquiring a further 2,075,000 shares in the company and Adam buying 625,000.

The group also revealed that major shareholder Phillip Kaye had subscribed to one million new shares and now holds 5.23% of the company’s enlarged share capital.

Adam and Sam Kaye – What we think

According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2011 the brothers are worth £130m, so Tasty is presumably a passion rather than a financial necessity.

There is a sense that by now Dim T could have become a larger concern than it is today, but having built Ask into a notable chain, repeating the process is possibly not their intention. In the past year, more focus seems to have been given to growing the Wildwood chain.

Tasty’s leadership team described 2009 as a year of consolidation for the chain, as restaurant operators across the UK fought to keep their custom during the recession. Having got its house in order, the company approached 2010 with more gusto.

For instance, it rebranded its Gloucester Road DimT restaurant as a Wildwood restaurant; opened four new Wildwood restaurants and sub-let the Milton Keynes restaurant. The group now has 14 sites – six DimTs and eight Wildwoods. It has just exchanged contracts for a new unit in Canary Wharf that is expected to open soon, with others in the pipeline.

While 2010 proved to be a year of expansion for Wildwood, management constantly updated the menus of both its brands. In addition, they offered promotions to boost sales and continue to focus on food and labour margins. This has resulted in an improvement in the trading position of the group despite the UK’s depressed economy.

Adam and Sam Kaye’s ranking in the 2010 TheCaterer.com 100 >>

Wildwood owner Tasty looking forward to second half of the year >>

Hospitality ownership over the past 25 years >>

Wildwood website >>

Dim T website >>

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