With a new CEO, Disruptive Restaurant Group is poised to embark on a rapid growth trajectory that will nearly double the size of the Umami Burger chain and seed upscale brands like Katsuya and Cleo around the world over the next four years.
The Los Angeles-based multiconcept group, which operates or licenses 74 restaurants and 42 lounges, last week named Daniel del Olmo CEO. Earlier this year, Disruptive was created as a subsidiary of the hospitality company SBE, parent to the SLS, Morgan and The Redbury hotel brands.
The goal is to build Disruptive’s diverse portfolio of restaurant brands within SBE properties — the hospitality company plans to open six hotels in the next six months — as well as open restaurants with other hotel partners and as standalone locations. Across the board, Disruptive plans to add 60 new venues, including both restaurants and nightclubs, by 2021.
A redesigned Umami Burger in Los Angeles. (Photo: Umami Burger)
If all goes as planned, Disruptive’s portfolio has been estimated as having the potential to top $1 billion, but that depends on the consummation of a proposed merger with London-based Hakkasan Group, another multiconcept operator of glitzy restaurants and nightclubs around the world.
Sam Nazarian, SBE’s founder and CEO, said the deal “is in the hands of investors” in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re still very eager to get the deal done,” he said. “It’s a large and complicated deal.”
Del Olmo, meanwhile, has plenty of growth to contend with.
Originally from Belgium and fluent in multiple languages, del Olmo served most recently as president of the international division for Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity Inc., parent to the Applebee’s and IHOP brands. His prior experience includes work with the Wyndham Hotel Group and other hotel and travel brands around the world.
Del Olmo said he has been tasked with thinking both domestically and globally for Disruptive’s stable of brands.
By 2021, Disruptive plans to add another 25 Umami Burger restaurants in the U.S. and internationally, almost doubling the size of the 26-unit chain.
Del Olmo said the group is looking at licensing and franchising Umami Burger. Some of those units may be fast-casual variations on the brand, which is mostly full-service, although limited-service locations exist at Los Angeles International Airport and in Brookfield Place in New York City.
Umami Burger this year opened its first international location in Japan, where partner Medeiros Holdings Co. Ltd. is planning another 10 units. Del Olmo also sees opportunities in the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, where SBE is growing its hotels.
“Our intent is to continue to establish strong business partnerships with capable and well-capitalized partners that will help us grow in areas with the greatest potential,” del Olmo said. “Today the logical expansion of Umami comes with where SBE has already been growing.”
Four views of the upscale Katsuya Hollywood restaurant. (Photo: Katsuya)
Also in the works is the addition of 16 Katsuya locations, an upscale Asian brand with a menu created by renowned sushi chef Katsuya Uechi. The chain includes 10 Katsuya locations, including domestic units, one in SBE’s Baha Mar Hotel in the Bahamas, and in the Middle East with partner M.H. Alshaya Co.
Alshaya opened the first Katsuya in the Middle East at the Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel in Dubai earlier this year. Units are also planned in Qatar and Bahrain.
Del Olmo said the company’s Cleo brand also has potential in the Middle East. Disruptive plans to add another 11 Cleo restaurants, which offer a high-end Mediterranean menu created by chef Danny Elmaleh.
Cleo has two units in Los Angeles, with a third scheduled to open in Santa Monica, Calif., this fall, and a fourth planned in New York later this year.
Other concepts are up and coming, del Olmo said. Last year, Disruptive opened the Italian concept Fi’lia Miami in partnership with chef Michael Schwartz at the SLS Brickell hotel.
This year, the Argentinian Grill Leynia debuted at the Delano Hotel in Miami with a menu by Jose Icardi, who was executive chef at the group’s hotel in South Beach. The concept was initially launched as a pop-up, but it has been a hit, and a second location of Leynia is in the works, Nazarian said.
And Disruptive operates the casual K Ramen. Burger. Beer concept in the Los Angeles area and Miami.
Perhaps most notably, SBE was an “early adopter” in 2004 of chef and restaurateur José Andrés, with a partnership that has grown to include four locations of The Bazaar by José Andrés in SBE hotels, along with various sister brands. Andrés is a powerful restaurateur in his own right with his Washington, D.C.-based ThinkFoodGroup, which operates about 28 concepts worldwide.
More brands are being incubated, Nazarian said.
“We’ve always known that the ultimate goal for us was to be a multi-platform hospitality company, and that food and beverage would be a big part of it,” he said. “We’re always looking for the next collaboration, the next evolution, whether it’s home grown, like chef Danny was as one of our sous chefs, and with partnerships like with Michael Schwartz.”
Fundamentally, the restaurant group benefits from the infrastructure of the SBE hospitality network as it moves into new markets.
And now the restaurant group has the leadership it needed, Nazarian said.
“What Daniel is going to bring to this group is really sell every aspect of entertainment and food and beverage, in every vertical and in every category,” he said. “There aren’t too many companies of scale that are where we are, now that we’re all under one platform. We’re also putting our money where our mouth is by putting all of our concepts into our hotels and constantly inventing new brands.”
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout