Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jonathan Kaye, Prezzo, Chimichanga

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jonathan Kaye, Prezzo, Chimichanga

Overall ranking: 55 (NEW ENTRY)Restaurateur ranking: 16 (NEW ENTRY)

Jonathan Kaye, chief executive of Prezzo, opened the company's first site on Oxford Street in 2000. The casual dining chain offers pizza, pasta, salad and Italian grills. In addition the group operates Chimichanga Mexican restaurants, Caffe Uno and Chimis Burrito Bar.

Unlike so many other restaurant companies during recession, this chain has continued to grow. Its 200th restaurant is opening in Marlow, which will take the total number of Prezzo Italian restaurants to 175 along with 22 Chimichangas, two Caffe Unos and one Chimis Burrito Bar.

For the 52 weeks ended 1 January 2012, revenue increased 18% to £123.9m (2010 - £104.8m) and gross or restaurant profit increased 15% to £18.7m (2010 - £16.2m).

Jonathan Kaye - Career guide
Kaye is arguably restaurant royalty. His father and uncle are Reginald and Philip, who started the Golden Egg cafe chain in the 1960-70s, and Garfunkel's and Deep Pan Pizza in the 1980s. His cousins are Adam and Sam, founders of pizza chains Ask and Zizzi, which they later sold to PizzaExpress owner Gondola Holdings.

Nevertheless, although at 13 he was washing up in a restaurant in the Fulham Road, he had no plans to follow the family path. In fact, it wasn't until his second year studying politics at Leeds University that he began to see the restaurant business as an exciting industry and changed his mind.

On graduating, Kaye gained experience at Ask for a while before launching Prezzo in 2000, backed by his Uncle Philip. In 2002 Prezzo launched on the Aim stock market. There's still a strong family feel to the business, though, as his Uncle Philip owns 48% of the group while cousins Adam and Sam are on the board as non-executive directors.

The company expanded notably in 2006-7, when it dropped its price share, raising £7.125m. It added 12 new restaurants in the first six months of 2006, taking it to 85. Since then, it has been steadily expanding.

In 2011, Kaye won a restaurateur of the year Catey […/Cateys-2011-Restaurateur-of-the-Year-Group- Jonathan.htm]. The chain's profile was further raised by inviting celebrity chef Aldo Zilli to create four new pizzas for the Prezzo menu.

Jonathan Kaye - What we think
Despite heavyweight backing from the Kaye family, Jonathan Kaye has taken charge and made Prezzo his own. With a 15% increase in profits last year, recession has not been too harsh for the midmarket brand and the 34-year-old is confident that he still has a plenty yet to do with Prezzo. He has certainly hit a cool market for the economic times, with a price-point of around £15 a head it attracts most customer pockets, from those wanting value for money to those wanting a big night out.

The brand certainly seems to be weathering the times, with restaurants opening throughout the downturn and 25 expected to have opened by the end of this year. Among developments, the company opened a new central London operation in the redevelopment of Kings Cross railway station and has earmarked sites in Chingford, Manchester, Aldershot and Wandsworth.

Nevertheless, Kaye did scale back expansion in the first part of recession and began to make greater use of social media to market promotions and offers, which he believes worked well for the brand. In addition, he has said the Caffe Uno and Chimichanga brands give him more scope for expansion.
It is likely, therefore, that 2013 will see Kaye continuing his recent trend of opening around 20 new restaurants a year - a strategy that will see him nipping at the heels of big-hitters such as PizzaExpress in the next five years.

Financial performance>>

The Caterer and Hotelkeeper Interview: Jonathan Kaye >>

2011 Restaurateur of the Year Catey - Group: Jonathan Kaye >>

Prezzo website >>

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