Fortune runs an interesting piece today on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's plans to open as many as 50 restaurants in the next five years, under the company he runs with partner Phil Suarez, Starwood Hotels, and the private equity firm behind Outback Steakhouse. They're calling it... "The Applebee's of haute cuisine." He plans on opening 10 new restaurants around the world in 2009 alone, recession be damned:
"The goal of the company, called Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, is to create an haute cuisine chain with the reach of McDonald's...
Instead of using Big Macs and a clown named Ronald, Culinary Concepts plans to conquer the world with three main prototypes: Market, J&G Steakhouse, and Spice Market...it is anyone's guess whether fine dining can be mass-produced. Or whether a product launch of this magnitude can succeed during a recession."
Meanwhile, back at home, sales at JGV's flagship Jean Georges were down 10% last quarter, prompting the launch of his $35 recession special and the removal of excessive staff positions.