Every operator wants to have a strong brand, but what do you do when that brand starts showing its age and you need a growth vehicle to revive it? Take a look at what Planet Hollywood International has come up with: the new Planet Dailies and its attached lounge, Mixology 101. The only celebrities this time around: its bartenders.
Planet Hollywood was one of the hottest concepts in foodservice during the 1990s. But its fortunes sagged as the box office power of its movie star owners—Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore—began to dwindle. At one point, the chain stretched around the globe from Melbourne to Moscow to Maui to Mumbai. It has since shrunk to 16 restaurants, five of them in the U.S. Its retail arm was a prodigious seller of t-shirts and movie memorabilia in its day.
Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas helps keep the brand top of mind today, and that’s where you’ll find the first iteration of Planet Dailies. “Twenty-four hours a day, Planet Dailies, the most high-tech coffee shop/café in Las Vegas, is ready with over 200 menu items to choose from,” the company says.
This concept did well enough that the company opened a second Planet Dailies unit in Los Angeles last week, and this one’s much more than a 24-hour coffee shop. Here’s how the company describes the concept now:
“Planet Dailies is a new concept from Planet Hollywood landing in L.A., offering classic yet modern dishes for lunch and dinner, along with an indulgent weekend brunch. Located at the Original Farmers Market, Planet Dailies brings a star-worthy menu of crowd-pleasing favorites together with the stylish Mixology 101, whose signature cocktail program was created by award-winning London-based mixologist Salvatore Calabrese and will be helmed by L.A. favorite Joe Brooke. Menu items will highlight local, seasonal farm-to-table ingredients—from pasta to produce to the bun on your burger.”
The Original Farmers Market is a mid-city shopping mall. Its existing restaurant lineup ranges from local old-school comfort food favorite Du-par’s to Chipotle Mexican Grill, so Planet Dailies will stand out. The Mixology 101 concept, with 215 seats, will be high profile, too, if only because of the bar team. Brooke is well known in Los Angeles circles from his work behind the bar at “sophisticated Hollywood speakeasy” The Edison and hip hangout Next Door Lounge. Calabrese dreams up his concoctions while working out of the Playboy Club in London.
The restaurant’s menu falls short of the 200 items offered at the original Planet Dailies in Las Vegas. But it’s still gigantic. The 110 choices include 15 appetizers, five pizzas, 10 sandwiches, 12 Chinese dishes, five beef burgers, five chicken burgers, 11 entrees, eight pastas, 11 side dishes, five adult shakes, five kids’ items and six desserts. Weekend brunch runs from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and has a separate 47-item menu.
Planet Hollywood restaurants are big on Tinseltown glitz and movie memorabilia, but Planet Dailies is taking a different tack. The celebrity factor will be upped by the recurring presence of gossip show Extra host Mario Lopez, who will broadcast a weekly radio show from Planet Dailies. Most prominent among the high-tech gizmos that decorate the space is a touch-screen monitor that allows aspiring actors to search for upcoming audition opportunities around L.A.
“I am excited to bring Planet Dailies and Mixology 101 to such an historic Los Angeles landmark as the Original Farmers Market,” say Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl. “We worked hard to bring a sexy space with attentive staff, unparalleled cocktails and a new, market-driven menu that is sure to appeal to the Hollywood scene, as well as visitors from all over the world.”
If this drinks-first approach takes off like Earl hopes, Planet Hollywood could find itself back in the growth concept game in a hurry.