Have you ever thought about how to open a restaurant in China? Gennadii Bochkar and Chen Feng were co-founders of Bites & Brews restaurant in Shanghai in 2016. They have gone on to found a series of other restaurants and now are co-founders of the restaurant group BIBIMI Group. Although all of their venues are currently in Shanghai they plan to have 300 restaurants and bars across China by 2045. They started in 2016 and now 8 popular and well-known venues. Among them are Bites & Brews, Hot Chick, Barbarian, Nomad, 满MANIA, and Bandit are under their management.
Gennadii Bochkar started off in data analytics while Chen Feng (Fiona) started off as a nurse. Not exactly successful F&B breeding grounds, nevertheless and most importantly to Gennadii and Chen Feng (Fiona), they are both extremely passionate about the restaurants they open. Gennadii Bochkar leverages his data background at Linkfluence and uses data to drive decision-making about trends in the China restaurant market; and these inform the strategies that both he and Fiona will devise. He takes a more hands-off approach once they open a restaurant in China. Fiona is instrumental in securing investment for new venues and also crunches Bochkar’s data to develop concepts for the new restaurants.
Open 8 venues (restaurants and bar) in Shanghai
The Barbarian is a bar and restaurant that serves grills. The bar focuses on mixology and is described as a cozy, rustic-looking bar with an emphasis on crafted, custom-order cocktails. Head cocktail shaker is Sasha Bondi, who creates individual cocktails based on a multi-stage survey of preferred tastes.
The Nomad has a strong Moroccan touch. Wooden tables under shimmering pendants, white stone walls, and an entire floor lined with irregular brick tiles. On the menu are grilled meats and seafood, and some dishes like the lamb chop made in a Mongolian style. The drink starts at 65 RMB and food at around 120 RMB.
A bright, cheerful Southern American joint fare and a large enough selection of tacos to pique the interest of this taco-princess. The restaurant is a semi-open tavern, with a window seat where you can enjoy a drink with friends.
Bites and Brews (B&B)
Restaurant located within the string of eateries on Wuding Lu. Bites and Brews menu features sandwiches, salads as well as a selection of ciders. Occupying two floors (complete with wood finishing giving off aesthetic barnyard vibes), it is a convenient venue for big parties.
A classic chicken shop that specializes in the roasting and frying of said poultry. The small seating area can accommodate a few people. However, most of the business is done through delivery.
Сoncept is the keyword when it comes to BIBIMI Groups restaurants
If you have been to a BIBIMI Group restaurant then you will know that décor and ambiance are as much a draw for consumers as the affordably priced and quality food. This is because their main idea is not to get stuck to one rigid menu or one rigid customer group in the event of forces beyond their control rendering that particular menu or customer group unfashionable or impotent
“We won’t concentrate on specific cuisines like French, Indian, Thai, Chinese, or Italian food but rather we will focus on creating a certain atmosphere and concept for our brands through exciting décor and diverse menus. This helps us to be more dynamic, and flexible with changing trends in the market; and we can be more innovative with our menus and restaurant layout. It also gives us more stability as we don’t have to rely on one cuisine being innovative or rely on the continued presence of a large group of one country’s expats in China as our main customers.”Gennadii Bochkar, BIBIM Group co-founder
Although each restaurant or nightclub has its own unique interior layout and design; atmosphere, and vibe, there are benefits in terms of economies of scale for having a chain of venues. For one, the back-end i.e. the kitchen/ bar, can be relatively similar from venue to venue and they may exploit this further going forward with a central kitchen business model. Another is that they may be able to import more key food products directly without having to go through F&B distributors.
But the biggest benefit in the eyes of the co-founders is that they can attract a higher volume of the most skilled chefs and drink makers in Shanghai and give them the platform to be creative with what they produce. The more restaurants and restaurant-bars they have, the more they can move thede highly skilled food and drink specialists around, and give them well-rounded training.
Structure & Figures: business investment in China
In total BIBIMI Group’s 8 venues serve around 3,500 consumers every day. They employ roughly 160 – 170 people in full and part-time positions. They have around 25 employees in management positions. There are 4 top-level managers, of which Gennadii Bochkar and Chen Feng (Fiona) are 2. The other top-level managers, who are involved in the menu and cocktail design decision making. One of them is Todd Alyn, who is a founder at Todd Alyn Culinary Consulting and the main CHEF at all their venues.
They take in roughly 10 – 20 million RMB in sales per month. They have received around 23 million RMB in investment to date but have mostly received this from friendly investors. If they want to achieve their stated goal of having 300 venues by 2045, they will have to seek investment from institutional investors.
Open a restaurant in China: Customers and competitors
BIBIMI Group venues’ target market comes from 2 main groups. 1 is the casual dining group and the other is the experience market. They target the second group by offering unique décor, interesting music selection, and culturally diverse menus. The first group is targeted by providing high-quality, trendy food and drinks at an affordable price. By combing these 2 concepts they created a blue ocean. However, their competitors are, of course, the other bars, clubs, and restaurants in Found 158 and other locations across the city.
Each restaurant brand manages its own CRM system with some using WeChat mini-apps and more using WeChat group chats to reach out to followers.
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