Restaurateur Kurt Zdesar is set to launch a raft of new restaurants, as he expands his successful Chotto Matte brand internationally and plans to open two new concepts here in the UK.
Zdesar, who was a former director of operations of Nobu in Europe before going on to found Ping Pong (in which he is no longer involved), launched the 9,000 sq ft Chotto Matte in London's Frith Street in Soho in 2013.
Now he has signed new sites for the restaurant and bar concept, which marries Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, in Miami in the US, and Toronto in Canada.
The Miami venue, which will be on Lincoln Road close to Miami Beach and the 11 11 Lincoln Road shopping, dining, residential and parking experience designed by architects Herzog & De Meuron, will boast an open-air sushi restaurant and bar and at 9,000 sq ft will be similar in size to its London sister site. It is set to open in March 2017.
Its launch will be followed soon after by construction at the Chotto Matte site in Toronto at 161 Bay Street. Once again it will be 9,000 sq ft.
Before both of those openings will come a new London restaurant on Chiltern Street in a new-build site. The Italian "casual luxury" restaurant called Fucina will be headed up by chef Stefano Stecca, formerly of Toto's in London and Novikov prior to that. The restaurant will serve food made with only organic produce, and will also boast its own adjoining panetteria, where it will bake its own bread. The restaurant will make many ingredients in-house, including its own ice-cream, pasta, cold-pressed juices, and pastries. Wines and soft drinks will also be organic.
"We want to offer something slightly different to the Italian restaurants that exist in London. I think we are seeing a big movement towards product quality and I have seen farm-to-table really take off in America," said Zdesar. "When you are eating in fine dining restaurants then it is the responsibility of the owners and the chefs to give the best possible product. I personally believe that organic is the best that we can provide so I want this to be a 100% organic Italian restaurant."
Fucina, designed by Andy Martin Architecture, will have 106 seats upstairs, and a wood-burning fire pit downstairs for cooking meat where there will be a private dining room seating a further 10. The restaurant will have two communal tables for seating without reservations, as well as a small bar and an espresso coffee counter.
It is set to open in late September or early October this year.
Finally, Zdesar is also looking at launching a casual dining concept based around the Hawaiian fish salad, poke.
The move comes after he converted his Mayfair seafood restaurant Bouillabaisse, which struggled as a concept, into Black Roe Poke earlier this year and saw an immediate uplift in custom. "I didn't expect such a reaction to poke but there is something about it that seems to strike a chord with the client. And I thought this is my opportunity. So I have been working furiously on a new brand and I am in the process of bidding on ten sites in the hope to get four. I want one in the City, Soho, King's Cross, South Kensington."
Although Zdesar did not reveal what the new brand would be called, it will aim to offer poke and a drink for around £10. No sites have yet been secured.
All of the openings will be funded privately by Zdesar and his business partner, with no outside investment.
"I get my thrills from the scary ride of opening new concepts," said Zdesar of his decision to launch several new restaurants in quick succession. "It is lovely to have the fear and the sleepless nights, the worry but also the excitement about how it is going to do and seeing something that works is the most amazing thing. I remember opening my first Ping Pong and getting that thrill ride. I got that excitement with Nobu too in every city we went to."
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