Overall ranking: 41 (New entry)
Restaurant ranking: 14
Arjun Waney - Snapshot
Indian-born Arjun Waney is a successful venture capitalist who has backed several restaurant winners, including the Asian-inspired Zuma and Roka, which have been rolled out internationally from London, as well as La Petit Maison and Il Baretto, both in the capital.
Arjun Waney- Career guide
Waney teamed up with Divia Lavani to invest in the opening of modern Japanese restaurants Zuma, in Knightsbridge in 2002, and Roka, in Charlotte Street in the summer of 2004. The concepts were devised by chef Rainer Becker while working in Tokyo and are both based around the Japanese robata grill.
More sites followed for Zuma, in Hong Kong in 2007, Istanbul in February 2008, Dubai in August 2008 and Miami in May 2010. Meanwhile, further branches of his Roka restaurant opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2008, London’s Canary Wharf in 2009 and Hong Kong in 2010.
In 2007, Waney opened La Petit Maison, an upmarket French “tapas” restaurant that aimed to bring the cuisine from the original in Nice to Brooks Mews, London. In 2009, he invested in an Italian concept, Il Baretto, in Blandford Street.
Recently, it was announced that Waney, his brother Peter and veteran restaurateur Giuliano Lotto, a former director of A-Z Restaurants, are to launch a new high-end Italian restaurant in North Audley Street, London, this year. It will open as Banca in September 2011.
The team have also taken over a site in Mayfair and will relaunch it as another high-end Italian restaurant Aurelia in July 2011.
Arjun Waney - What we think
Considering that Waney – dubbed a serial entrepreneur – initially set Zuma up as an investment hobby, he may have been surprised at the runaway success of his restaurant venture.
Despite being the investor rather than hands-on in the restaurant, Waney clearly has a flair for spotting food trends. He was included in the London Evening Standard's most influential foodies list.
Nevertheless, it was his experience doing business in the UAE that eased the path for Zuma’s expansion there and his financial input has allowed the creative genius of Becker to expand the business beyond the UK.
And with two new Italian and Mediterranean restaurant ventures planned in London with a new partner, Giuliano Lotto, it looks as if he may just be gathering momentum. The last word is with David Rawlinson, director of Restaurant Property who acted on behalf of the investment team: “The people involved in this project are of the highest calibre and currently run four of London’s best restaurants.”
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Zuma website >>
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