When Andrés cemented the Bazaar partnership with SBE nine years ago, it was a big brand-building opportunity for ThinkFoodGroup. Now, everybody wants to be associated with Andrés, and the company no longer has to keep turning Bazaar expansion opportunities down.
— Erika Adams
José Andrés’ restaurant group ThinkFoodGroup has bought back the rights to The Bazaar, a restaurant brand that was originally developed in partnership with SBE Entertainment Group to be paired with one of its luxury hotel brands, SLS Hotels. ThinkFoodGroup now has total control over the future of The Bazaar concept, and won’t be tied to only opening locations in connection with SLS Hotels. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
There are currently four Bazaar locations in SLS Hotels’ properties; those will remain under the same ownership and management after the rights acquisition.
ThinkFoodGroup CEO Kimberly Grant told Skift Table that the split was amicable. José Andrés (and therefore ThinkFoodGroup) has experienced an astronomical rise in the public eye since the partnership was cemented nine years ago. Hotel developers have repeatedly approached the company to open restaurants in other properties, and eventually, it didn’t make sense to keep refusing the offers due to the exclusive SBE partnership.
“All companies have an evolution,” Grant said. “We want to own and operate our businesses whenever possible. The relationship was different when we started out in the hotel business.”
The Benefits of Ownership
By completely owning the Bazaar brand, ThinkFoodGroup will not only get to reap all of the financial benefits of the company’s own hard work, Grant explained, but they will also have full control over how the brand is executed at all times.
Plans are still firming up for The Bazaar’s expansion under ThinkFoodGroup’s ownership. “I’d love to see the brand in San Francisco or Boston or New York,” Grant said. “We love clustering our businesses and creating a neighborhood, like in D.C. and Las Vegas, and we’ve started to in Miami.”
Any big move will require allocating more staff resources for the Bazaar brand, and Grant says the company is continually assessing its growth strategy with regards to building its team across all properties. Between several big projects that ThinkFoodGroup is launching within the next twelve months — Mercado Little Spain, the food hall in New York City, and the company’s largest iteration of Jaleo, opening in a Disney resort in Florida — Grant expects the company to double its current workforce of 2,000 employees.
Most important, with regards to the Bazaar brand, is that the options are wide open. “There have been many developers over the last nine years who have wanted José to place the brand in other properties,” Grant said. “Now we have the flexibility to do that.”