The Midas Touch
Just the name is enough to pack a new restaurant in Moscow. Arkady Novikov has the Midas touch and is sought after by partners from Conde Naste to anonymous oligarchs for his ability to create singularly exciting and uniquely designed restaurants and clubs which draw a crowd and spells success for the venture.
By John Bonar
Photos by Serge Golovach
Since he opened his first outlet, the fish restaurant Sirena in 1992, the Novikov empire has grown to embrace some 30 individual and theme gourmet restaurants, popularly priced chains, retail outlets and an agri-business. He still has time to be the face of American Express in Russia, the star of Nestle TV commercials for a local chocolate brand, publisher of his own magazine and dabble with TV reality shows. Born in Moscow in 1962, Novikov has gone from success to success since opening Sirena. His Group owns over 30 concept restaurants (Tsarskaya Okhota, Sirena, Uzbekistan, “Beloye Solntse Pustyni”, Vesna, Veranda u Dachi, Market, Vanil, “Voguecafe”, Galereya, Cantinetta Antinori, Biscuit, China Club, Barashka, Justo, Kavkazskaya Plennitsa, Piramida, Prichal, Syr, Yapona Mama, karaoke-bar Krik, Casual, Shore House, Aist, GQ Club, Nadalny Vostok); six chain projects within a lower price range — “Yolki-Palki”, Malenkaya Yaponia, Piat Zvezd, Sushi Vesla, “Kish-Mish”, Delis Cafe), casino Angara, entertainment complex Atriland, NRG Product company (fish and seafood supplier), greenhouse Agronom, exclusive interior salon Truggelmann and floral design studio "55".
The Novikov Restaurants Group’s consolidated revenue in 2004 was $81.9 million. The company employs over 13,000 staff. The largest chain project Yolki-Palki was created in 1996 and embraces 33 restaurants in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhni Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don. The managing company is ZAO Lunch. Since 2004 the company has been developing a franchise network and today six franchise restaurants are open in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Ivanovo, Rostov-na-Don and Nizhni Novgorod. The chain projects have the following number of restaurants: Malenkaya Yaponia — 2, Sushi Vesla — 4, Kish-Mish — 5, (including one franchise restaurant in Tyumen).
Novikov at a glance
- 46 projects
- 13,800 employees
- 12,000 seats
- 18 cuisines
Novikov on Novikov
“I grew up quite late and hadn’t even thought what I wanted to do in school. I was reading fairy tales until I was 15…”
“I couldn’t cook until I went to college, but I loved to watch my grandmother cook. And she would try to get me out of the kitchen saying ‘It’s not men’s business!’”.
“The work on this project (Sirena, his first restaurant) has largely defined our strategy. It made clear that impeccable food is a prerequisite though not exhaustive condition of a restaurant’s success. Each following project was a quest for some interesting, always new theme and scrupulous work on the realisation of the idea.”
“I asked every waiter — what would you like to try in a restaurant? Why would you go there? What haven’t you seen anywhere yet? What they told me became the restaurant.(Yolki Palki).”
“How do I know what kind of restaurant to open? Anyone can say what to add when tasting a soup, salt or pepper. Same with me, I just roughly sense when and what restaurant to open. When I start making mistakes, adding too much or too little salt, that’ll be it.” “People come to a Novikov restaurant firstly, then they choose according to the food and service.”
"An exquisite dish starts with quality ingredients, that may accord or conflict with each other. Essential accents are the sauce, cooking time and beautiful serving. Only a top-level chef can bring it all together.” “I am often asked whether I’m going to expand my company. I always tell myself, ‘Enough. Stop. But I can’t stop!”
Since 2004 the Group has been working on several retail projects in different price segments: including the Russian branches of both the famous French gourmet chains Fauchon (opened in 2004) under the Managing company OOO “Betanol-Rus”, and Hediard (opened in September 2005) under the Managing company OOO Lankor . They also have Premium grocery store chain Globus Gourmet (opened in 2005) which currently has two stores operating, with plans to have 12-15 stores in Moscow by the end of 2008.
Alongside the Yolki Polki restaurants, Novikov has launched a medium-priced corner shop-type supermarket of the same name.
In 2002 he ventured into agribusiness with a greenhouse complex OOO Agronom. Today several thousand organic plants are grown on six hectares of land, including strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, melons and herbs. The farm supplies products for the Group’s restaurants as well as other restaurants and retailers. Since 2005 the company has been growing and promoting organic products under the NOVIKOV brand.
If anything, the pace of Novikov’s growth is accelerating. In 2005 the company launched a number of new projects, including the second restaurant in the Yapona Mama chain (May); French restaurant with modern Provencal cuisine, Casual (June); Restaurant and yacht club Shore House, a joint venture with Crocus Group (July); and Italian restaurant Aist (December).
In 2006 the company continued the pace of development with GQ Bar & Restaurant, a joint venture with Conde Nast, five restaurants in the Karo Cinema centre Oktyabr — Porto Chervo (Italian restaurant), Malenkaya Yaponia, Delis Cafe, Oktyabr (karaoke- bar) and Black October Bar (DJ-bar) and Nedalnyi Vostok.