US steakhouse and grill chain The Palm is to open two more sites in London in 2011, amid further plans for European expansion.
The company, one of America's oldest privately owned restaurant chains, will open an outpost at Heathrow Airport with another restaurant planned for the West End, following its debut in the UK last year. It also has restaurants in Vienna, Austria, and Frankfurt, Germany, in the pipeline.
The Palm has teamed up with travel concession business SSP for the Heathrow site, which is scheduled to open towards the middle of 2011. The move follows two joint ventures with SSP in the USA comprising a restaurant at JFK airport in New York, which opened in January, and one at George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas, set to launch towards the end of this year.
Separately, The Palm has earmarked three possible venues in the West End where it plans to open its second central London site at the beginning of next year. Its first restaurant opened in the site formerly occupied by Drones in Belgravia last spring.
In Europe, The Palm has teamed up with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and will open a restaurant at the company's Vienna hotel later this year. In 2012 another Palm will open at the InterContinental Hotel in Frankfurt, which is about to undergo a major refurbishment.
Wally Ganzi, who co-owns The Palm with partner Bruce Bozzi, told Caterersearch the group is focusing on its UK and European expansion as these markets are more stable. "I hate to say it but unfortunately the market in the USA is not out of the woods yet and for now we're concentrating our efforts on expanding in Europe," he said.
"Our London restaurant has been doing very well so we're excited about expanding here. The economies in Austria and Germany are strong and we're also looking at possible sites in Paris."
Famous for its seafood grills and aged prime-beef, The Palm was first launched by Italian immigrants John Ganzi and Pio Bozzi in New York in 1926. It now numbers 29 restaurants, with operations in Washington, New York, East Hampton, Los Angeles, Houston, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
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By Kerstin Kühn
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