This year, Restaurant Hospitality collected the 25 most powerful multiconcept operators across the country, or what we call the RH 25. With this list, there is no ranking. All 25 are powerful, and all 25 are companies to watch. See all concepts >>
Leadership: Thomas Keller, founder
HQ: Yountville, Calif.
Concepts: The French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro (3 units), Bouchon Bakery (5 units), Bar Bouchon, Per Se, Ad Hoc + Addendum
Group systemwide sales: Not disclosed
What’s new: A new classic American concept coming to Hudson Yards in New York in 2018, as well as Bouchon Bakery.
Building a new culinary neighborhood
Thomas Keller’s name has been a symbol for the top echelon of American fine dining for years. Next year, his restaurant group will enter a new phase of development.
Keller is co-curating food and beverage options for the 28-acre Hudson Yards development by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group in New York.
Hudson Yards will be packed with culinary giants — José Andrés, David Chang and Ferran and Albert Adrià. But not least among them will be Keller, who is planning a new classic American restaurant, not yet named, which will be the group’s first new concept in a decade.
In The New York Times, Keller described the 200-seat restaurant as one that would hearken back to the great restaurants of the “Mad Men” era, with someone like Bobby Short at the piano.
This year, Keller also completed a multi-million-dollar renovation of his kitchen and the inn at The French Laundry, giving the signature brand a fresh new look.
In New York, Corey Chow was named chef de cuisine at Per Se, replacing Eli Kaimeh, who is taking a sabbatical. Chow joined Per Se in 2007, leaving for a time to work in the kitchen at The NoMad and Torrisi Italian Specialities, before returning in 2015.
Meanwhile, Keller is consumed with passing the baton, according to the Times.
With no obvious successor, the French Laundry has yet to establish an identity separate from the chef. As the group expands next year, it will be interesting to watch how the revered chef approaches his role with the company, and that of his team.
“The French Laundry is Thomas Keller,” he said. “My job is to change that.”