In March we blogged about Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), the Chicago-based restaurant chain, that is a ‘multi-concept chain’. In other words, instead of developing one restaurant concept and developing it as a national, or even international, brand, LEYE operates lots of different restaurant concepts in one geographic region.
Here in Hong Kong, there is a restaurant company that is also multi-concept – Maxim’s. It operates 12 different fine dining restaurants offering Cantonese cuisine; 6 different quick service concepts, with between one and seven outlets; 3 upscale Western restaurants; 12 midscale Western concepts; 2 Japanese restaurant concepts; 3 south-east Asian restaurants; and 5 different franchises, including Starbucks.
So LEYE and Maxim’s have chosen not to focus on geographics growth, but concept growth. In the case of LEYE, it was because the original founders found it more fun to do this (it’s more complicated than this, but in my view this was the main reason). But for Maxim’s founders it was perhaps more of a necessity. Hong Kong is single city. When they first started their chain, in 1956, expansion meant developing units internationally – much more of a challenge. But both companies now dominate their local eating out market, and this inevitably creates economies of scale for their operations.