Yau plans range of Chinese restaurants

Wagamama founder Alan Yau is planning his third departure into “modern ethnic” cuisine with the opening of a London chain of Chinese chop suey houses called Hakkasan.

In the style of fashion house brands which create alternative diffusion ranges of the main label, Yau says he anticipates a three-tier roll out of the as yet unnamed brand concept.

The first manifestation of his modern Chinese venture will be a one-off, designer label version on Tottenham Court Road, designed by Christian Liagre who created interiors for Yau’s modern Thai concept, Busaba Eathai. It is scheduled to open in October.

A small chain of individually-designed Wagamama-style eateries for the £13-a-head market comprise the second tier of the pyramid. Yau forecasts they will be opened for next summer.

To design them Yau is hoping to enlist the help of a Japanese architect little known in the UK. Yau declines to mention him by name but says he is an expert at designing counter seating, which may become the “blueprint” for the idea.

The final tier will be a diffusion range of upmarket, fast-food restaurants for the £6-a-head price bracket, situated as high-street corner shops. Yau says that he has not yet begun to think about the design of graphics or interiors.

“I am modelling the whole idea on the way fashion houses like Donna Karan set up their brands. I am interested in how the very exclusive brand at the top can be rolled out as a diffusion brand like DKNY,” he says, adding that he hopes his concept can replace the traditional British Chinese restaurant.

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