Belgian food chain Exki has opened its first American restaurant in New York, while the founders hope to open dozens of restaurants in the United States.
Delayed, not cancelled
"We had examined the market back in 2008 and that had very positive results. New York is the ideal location, with its millions of inhabitants who are all very busy. Unfortunately, the crisis hit and we have had to wait a while", Laurent Kahn said. He was Exki's first employee and moved to the United States to prepare the company's American expansion.
Exki plans to open 3 to 4 restaurants in New York this year, with an estimated turnover of 90 million euro. Its second restaurant should open after the summer. "If these locations perform satisfactorily and if our business model still works, then we will prepare for the next step: 10, 20, 30 restaurants", co-founder Frédéric Rouvez said.
Local American ingredients
Just like in Europe, the company chooses to use local ingredients. "That is why we have chosen cheese from the state of Vermont, which is really tasty. One of these is a brie cheese which costs twice as much as imported French brie, but it is a local product and that is why we will use it. Vegetables come from New York and New Jersey, while bread is produced by two local organic bakeries who have come to Europe to learn how to make the bread the way we want it."
Exki is also looking past New York, to cities like Boston, Washington and Philadelphia, "but let's find our cruise control here in New York first", CEO Nicolas Steisel said.