Sat, Jan 12, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Smith & Wollensky opens first Asian outlet in Xinyi

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

US steak house Smith & Wollensky on Thursday opened an outlet in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) as the restaurant chain ventured into Asia to cash in on fast-growing demand for quality beef.

“Smith & Wollensky has sought to expand in Asia and Taipei stood out as the ideal location after a careful market assessment,” Smith & Wollensky chief executive Michael Feighery said at the restaurant’s opening ceremony.

The local branch is the company’s first licensed outlet in Asia with more to come if it proves successful, Smith & Wollensky spokesman Ray Yen (顏宏叡) said.

He declined to give a revenue target, saying the restaurant needs to be open for a month before a forecast could be made, but local diners have strong passion for beef cuisine and there is still room for growth.

Smith & Wollensky aims to add to the market with its unique flavors and business approach rather than steal guests from its competitors such as Morton’s The Steakhouse, Top Cap Steakhouse and Just Grill, Yen said.

In an unprecedented move, the new steak house does not charge a 10 percent service charge, but allows customers to decide whether to tip waiters, Yen said, adding that all the tips are divided among the waiters.

“Currently, service charges in Taiwanese restaurants are a myth because they go to the owners, denying waiters the motivation to excel at providing a service,” Yen said.

The practice became possible after landlord Breeze Nanshan Plaza (微風南山廣場) agreed to concessions on the rent, he said.

In a departure from existing outlets, the local branch on the 47th floor of the newly opened Breeze Nanshan Plaza has live jazz performances in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday that could generate an extra 5 percent of revenue, Yen said.

The steak house does not have a minimum consumption policy, but dinner sets cost NT$3,500 (US$114) on average per head, Yen said.

“We are fully booked for the most of this month,” he said.

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