The fine-dining concept Osaka — based in Peru and offering a Japanese/Peruvian menu — is planning an international expansion with a location coming to Miami during the first quarter of 2019, followed by London and Dubai.
The 17-year-old concept, named one of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018, has nine locations in seven cities across South America, including São Paulo, Brazil and Bogotá, Colombia. But Diego de la Puente — who operates the restaurant with his business partner Diego Herrera — sees its first U.S. restaurant as a stepping stone to further global expansion.
“There are not many other places to grow in South America, so we decided to go to the States,” de la Puente said. “Our growth plan is very aggressive. We want to be in major cities around the world.”
The Osaka menu is based on Nikkei cuisine, which has grown in popularity over the past several years and marries Japanese and Peruvian cooking styles and ingredients, including fusion variations on sushi and ceviche.
On Osaka’s menu, for instance, you’ll find whitefish ceviche with yellow chile sauce, avocado and smoked corn, along with Creole braised short ribs nigiri with chalaquita (traditional Peruvian salsa) and avocado mayonnaise, as well as Izakaya-style sharing plates.
The average check varies by country, but at the upcoming Miami location will be about $100 to $110 per person including drinks, with seating for 135 across three seating areas.
De la Puente said Nikkei’s popularity has grown internationally in recent years, and he aims to take advantage of that culinary buzz with some uniquely Osaka touches, like feng shui interior design with Peruvian accents.
“Today it is easier to grow,” de la Puente said. “Before, the industry was not quite there yet.”
When Herrera and de la Puente decided that the time was right to spread their restaurant brand to other continents, they immediately thought of Miami as a viable first location in North America.
“Miami is a market that my partner and I know very well,” de la Puente said. “It’s a place we really understand. Plus, most of our Latin American customers have already spent some time in Miami. Peruvian restaurants have been accepted as part of the culture there.”
De la Puente said Osaka, which is operated by the hospitality group MCK Restaurants, garnered $20 million in revenue systemwide in 2017. He projects the Miami unit will earn $7 million alone next year. There are currently no plans to franchise.
If the Miami restaurant is a success, the team is open to exploring other North American cities, especially Chicago, New York, And Los Angeles, he said.
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