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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » A new article about Trader Vic's from Nation's Restaurant News
A new article about Trader Vic's from Nation's Restaurant News
ruinthejimi
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 24, 2004
Posts: 12
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2006-03-07 3:44 pm   Permalink

Hello!

Below is an article from the Nation's Restaurant News about the Trader Vic's expansion. The NRN is a e-mail newsletter I get every couple of weeks and it provides industry information on restaurant trends. I usually monitor it for my business purposes but I never expected to find a Trader Vic's article!

A lot of this is information we already knew about but it does provide some industry insight such as the alcohol-to-food sales ratio and the expectation that the Las Vegas location could see an annual gross of $12 million!

-Jimi

Here's a link to the website with the article:
http://www.nrn.com/casualdining/

Here's the text:

Trader Vic's to resume U.S., foreign expansion

By Carolyn Walkup

CORTE MADERA, Calif. (March 6) - Trader Vic's, a 70-plus-year-old forerunner of upscale theme and fusion restaurants that aims to mentally transport customers to the tropics, intends to end a long streak of contraction or sluggish expansion by launching several new restaurants this year.

As many as eight openings within a year are planned for Trader Vic's, whose Polynesian-theme dining and tiki bar concept is known for decades ago introducing adventurous gourmets to such things as clay-oven cookery, wild mushrooms, wine lists featuring California vintages, and the mai tai cocktail invented by founder Victor Bergeron.

With TV reality shows set on remote islands having helped made tropical exotica trendy again, the chain is seeking to revive interest in such European-inflected signature creations as crab Rangoon and Bongo Bongo soup, though in some distinctly nontropical locales. A Bellevue, Wash., branch is scheduled to open this month, and a Scottsdale, Ariz., outpost of the Corte Madera-based chain is to open in April, to be followed by a planned launch this fall in Las Vegas. Those three openings would bring the chain's tally of domestic and foreign locations to 25.

In addition, deals signed for new restaurants in Chicago and Dallas should lead to openings in early 2007. Expansion to Amman, Jordan; Shanghai, China; and Doha, Qatar, also is in the development pipeline, according to Hans Richter, Trader Vic's president and chief executive.

Those international openings would continue the brand's pioneering legacy as perhaps the first upscale American restaurant concept to do overseas licensing, dating back around 43 years ago.

Among the chain's new franchisees are nightclub owner Robert Frey in Las Vegas, who is readying a highly visible location on the Strip across from the Bellagio resort; Harry Caray's Restaurant Group in Chicago; and the San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, which is bringing the Trader's Vic's concept back to Dallas. The Chicago opening by Harry Caray's also would mark a comeback for Trader Vic's in that city.

In Chicago, the nearly 50-year-old iconic branch in the basement of the Palmer House Hilton closed recently when new hotel owners disclosed plans to turn the space into high-end retail shops. That's when Grant DePorter, managing director of Harry Caray's, stepped in to find a new home for the restaurant.

"There are very few icons like that around," he said. "We were fans of Trader Vic's. When we heard they would have to move out of the Palmer House, we reached out to them." DePorter said he was searching for a site in Chicago's River North entertainment district.

"Trends are favorable for concepts that were huge in the 1950s and 1960s, when Hawaii became a state, Elvis did his Hawaiian movies and 'South Pacific' was popular," DePorter added. "Now, it's like escapism. You can do a minivacation."

The time has not passed for concepts like Trader Vic's and its signature lounge offerings of tropical-theme cocktails and pupu appetizers, agreed foodservice consultant and analyst Ron Paul, president of Chicago-based Technomic Inc. "Specialty drinks are very popular with consumers," he said, noting that Trader Vic's increasingly is competing with such contemporary brands as P.F. Chang's China Bistro. For that reason, Paul said, he would restrain the decor in new Trader Vic's to avoid tropics-theme excesses that might take the concept into the realm of kitsch.

Trader Vic's remained a single unit owned by the late Bergeron from its debut in 1936 in Oakland, Calif., until the chain's Beverly Hills, Calif., location opened in 1955, followed by branches in Chicago in 1957, London in 1963, and numerous other foreign and domestic locales. Subsequent openings, along with the closings of several domestic branches in recent decades, resulted in a worldwide total of 22 Trader Vic's by the end of 2004, most of them located abroad.

After a 25-year hiatus in domestic openings, Trader Vic's in 2001 launched a new restaurant in Palo Alto, Calif., that featured a more contemporary decor. It also boasted a more modern bar and new dishes, including a wood-oven pizza.

The chain's next domestic opening, in 2004, was in the San Francisco space that formerly housed Jeremiah Tower's famed Stars. That more visible real estate in the city replaced the former Cosmo Alley site, whose long history included first lady Nancy Reagan's 1983 hosting of Queen Elizabeth II at her first luncheon in an American restaurant.

San Francisco restaurant reviewers have given the reincarnated Trader Vic's mixed reviews for food and service. Richter would not reveal sales trends at that branch or any other Trader Vic's, although he said annual sales per restaurant range from $4 million to $7 million.

If all new scheduled openings see fruition, Richter indicated, annual systemwide sales would mushroom from approximately $50 million to $75 million or $80 million.

The larger-than-average Las Vegas property alone could gross as much as $12 million a year, Richter said. Trader Vic's high alcohol-to-food sales ratio, with the bar accounting for 40 percent of the total, aids profitability by keeping the chain's combined food-and-beverage percentage-cost for ingredients at about 27 percent, Richter indicated.

Per-person checks at dinner average $48 and are $24 for lunch, Richter said. Customers who reside near the restaurants form their biggest base of guests, and business travelers also are a substantial factor, he added.

Trader Vic's menu begins with "tidbits and finger food," $7 to $16, which are intended to pair well with the signature mai tais and other tropical drinks. Entrées are divided by preparations, including standard grilling and sautéing, wok-frying, and wood-fired-oven roasting. Prices range from $17 for vegetarian "Calcutta curries" to $38 for Prime-grade New York strip with cognac sauce.

Trader Vic's this summer plans to unveil a new, more casual concept, Mai Tai Bar that would shoot for a higher food-to-beverage ratio of about 50-50. The debut location, on Spain's Costa del Sol, is about 20 minutes away from a traditional Trader Vic's operated by the same franchisee, Richter said.

Trader Vic's also manages two Mexican-theme restaurants called Senior Pico in Bangkok, Thailand, and Muscat, Oman.

E-mail the author at: cwalkup@nrn.com


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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1771
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2006-03-07 5:07 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-03-07 15:44, ruinthejimi wrote:
For that reason, Paul said, he would restrain the decor in new Trader Vic's to avoid tropics-theme excesses that might take the concept into the realm of kitsch.


And then Trader Vic's will look like all the other restaurants out there. Let's hope they're not listening.

(Hoping for Trader Vic's to someday return to Florida...)



 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3818
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2006-03-07 6:02 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-03-07 15:44, ruinthejimi wrote:
Hello!
Trader Vic's to resume U.S., foreign expansion

By Carolyn Walkup

. . .
The time has not passed for concepts like Trader Vic's and its signature lounge offerings of tropical-theme cocktails and pupu appetizers, agreed foodservice consultant and analyst Ron Paul, president of Chicago-based Technomic Inc. "Specialty drinks are very popular with consumers," he said, noting that Trader Vic's increasingly is competing with such contemporary brands as P.F. Chang's China Bistro. For that reason, Paul said, he would restrain the decor in new Trader Vic's to avoid tropics-theme excesses that might take the concept into the realm of kitsch.




Ron Paul's analysis is self-contradictory.

The "signature lounge offereings of tropical -theme cocktails" account for 40% of the profit and a high alocohol-food ratio.

Consequently, the decor should emphasize that issue, not "avoid tropics-theme excesses that might take the concept into the realm of kitsch."


 
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Hulakowloony
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2006
Posts: 29
From: Denver, Colorado
Posted: 2006-03-08 07:02 am   Permalink

HMMM... tropics theme excess and over the top kitsch in Las Vegas? Now THERES an idea! why has'nt anyone thought of this before?

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bashfulness should be left at home.

[ This Message was edited by: Hulakowloony 2006-03-08 07:02 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Hulakowloony 2006-03-08 07:04 ]


 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3818
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2006-08-01 11:31 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-03-07 15:44, ruinthejimi wrote:

Trader Vic's this summer plans to unveil a new, more casual concept, Mai Tai Bar that would shoot for a higher food-to-beverage ratio of about 50-50.




I like the MaiTai bar concept. The Trader Vics lounge experience is worth the price of admission alone.

The more Trader Vics, the merrier.


 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3521
From: HELL
Posted: 2008-10-16 2:02 pm   Permalink

set of 4 senior pico mugs on ebay now from 1971....for $20 buy it now....looks like mexican versions of the trader vics cartoony mugs with native figures....

if anyone is interested....

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[ This Message was edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2008-10-16 14:02 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11171
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-10-16 4:33 pm   Permalink

Why the hell did you post that e-bay announcement under this thread with its "NEW article" header!? I just wasted 5 minutes reading an outdated article!

 
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