(Bloomberg) — The owner of London’s Wolseley restaurant, a favorite haunt of celebrities, CEOs and dealmakers, plans to open offshoots across the UK, Asia and the Middle East as the dining group seeks to move on from a bruising clash with its founder.
Dillip Rajakarier, chief executive officer of Thai hotel company Minor International PCL, said he envisaged Wolseley restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, as well as London’s financial district. He also plans Cafe Wolseley sites — more relaxed versions of the original in London’s Piccadilly — across other parts of China and the Middle East, as well as Manchester, Birmingham and Oxford in the UK.
“Our plan has always been two things,” Rajakarier said. “One is to grow the brand within the UK, and No. 2 is to take the brand outside, because a lot of our international guests love the brand, whether it’s the Middle East or Asia.”
Minor took full control of the Wolseley Hospitality Group, which also includes The Delauney, Brasserie Zedel and Colbert in London, last April after a battle for ownership with co-founder Jeremy King. Minor had initially taken a 74% stake in the group in 2017, but fell out with King over the strategic direction of the company, whose restaurants are known for their Viennese coffeehouse or Parisian brasserie vibe.
“Sometimes not all joint ventures go the way you want,” Rajakarier said. “It was sad. The guy is one of the best restaurateurs in London, and I value that. So yes, I do have regrets.”
The group could grow from seven sites today to 20 or more in five years, Rajakarier estimates. “We should be able to double the portfolio, easily,” he said.
The Wolseley planned for the City, London’s financial district, is a 268-seat site on King William Street due to open toward the end of this year, according to Baton Berisha, chief executive officer of the Wolseley Group.
Two more will shortly follow in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, according to Rajakarier. Dublin is also a potential destination.
Minor has venues across Asia and Europe, including restaurants such as Zuma and Benihana in London, along with a string of international hotels. In some countries, Minor plans to find franchise partners to open restaurants, and in others will manage them directly, planting some in its hotels.
(Updates with timing of restaurant opening in seventh paragraph)
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