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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spaghetti and Sushi to Get Coffee Cousin

MTBartenders in suspenders and silly hats could soon be serving beer at new TGI Friday's franchises in Russia and other countries.
Russia's first and largest restaurant chain, Rosinter, plans to respond to increasing demand from Moscow's diners by opening a new brand and relaunching its coffeehouse venture.

Rosinter's latest project is as franchisee for the Benihana chain, which began as a family business in New York in the 1960s. The Rosinter group, which already includes Rostik's, Patio Pizza, Patio Pasta, TGI Friday's and Planet Sushi, is aiming to open the first Benihana by the end of 2002 at Pushkin Square.

Group brand manager Vlad Rogov said Benihana would offer Japanese cuisine in a Western dining environment. Food is to be prepared at diners' tables, with chefs entertaining guests with the meal's preparation process. He said Rosinter might also open Benihana franchises in Europe.

"We have bought a franchise for the Benihana trademark and already have one site at Pushkin Square, where building has started," Rogov said. "The team is undergoing training in London and we plan to open before the end of the year and eventually to have two or three such restaurants in Moscow. We also want to open them in Riga and Almaty and are currently researching those markets."

"It will not be an expensive restaurant -- but a little more expensive than Planet Sushi," he added.

Rosinter is also expanding into setting up a chain of coffeehouses. The group's initial experiment with cafes ended earlier this year when its first Moka Loka outlet, on Ulitsa Vozdvizhenka, closed after a few months in business. But now the Moka Loka chain is to be relaunched, with the first cafe opening early next summer near the Oktyabrskoye Polye metro station.

Rogov said the coffee house business needed a different approach from restaurants, but that Rosinter believes the concept has potential in the city as consumer habits change and prices at the trendy new breed of coffeehouse come down.

"Opening coffeehouses is different from opening restaurants, so we have to look carefully at the requirements," he said. "The growth of coffeehouses is connected with the culture of people not just drinking coffee at home, but also going out and sitting somewhere. Most of these cafes in Moscow are quite expensive at the moment, but it is has a good future here. We want to open more and will combine city center locations with areas farther out."

Rogov said he expects competition between Moscow's restaurants to intensify, but that the addition of newcomers would have a positive influence.

Mike Solovyanov / For MT

Men dining amid American kitsch decor.

"When new, well-run restaurants open, it stimulates the market and helps us to progress, too," he said. "Demand for restaurants will grow. Restaurants will also tend more toward opening in areas outside the center, and chains have an advantage over individual restaurants, because they have higher brand awareness. I think we'll see restaurants becoming more professionally run and offering higher quality.

"The number of restaurants in Moscow is very low in comparison to other European cities. A lot of new restaurants are opening, but a lot are closing too," he said.

Rogov said Rosinter has plans to expand several of its brands. It wants to franchise out more Rostik's fast-food outlets and open more TGI Friday's restaurants in Russia and abroad. He said the group also plans to open more Planet Sushi restaurants in Minsk, Bratislava and Italy, among other locations.

Rosinter currently operates 56 restaurants in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Omsk and also has outlets in other countries throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.