The number of people visiting restaurants has plunged for four consecutive quarters. The National Restaurant Association’s performance index shows that the industry has declined for 23 months in a row. Sales at high-end eateries are off by 20 percent or more. And as Katy MClaughlin with the WSJ points out, in the $8 billion fine-dining business, nearly every city has lost one of its most famous restaurants in the past two years. But Sam Nazarian, chief executive of SBE Entertainment Group, the hospitality company that owns the Bazzar restaurant claims that since opening a little over a year ago, the Bazaar has grossed $13 million. Only 50 restaurants in the country grossed more last year, according to data from Restaurant & Institutions
What is the secret to the Bazaar’s success? The bar is the restaurant’s main attraction and everything is ala carte. About 35% of the Bazaar’s gross sales are from alcohol, compared to the 25% fine-dining industry standard. A few offerings are a $20 Brazilian cocktail, “Cotton Candy Foie Gras,” a block of rich pate that a waiter twirls in spun sugar, and “caviar cones,” fish eggs served in paper-thin pastry cones. The average check at the Bazaar is $100 a person.
The Bazaar’s Bar is located in the middle of the restaurant, flanked by two dining areasone in white, the other black with red accentsand a pastel-accented dessert area, called the Patisserie.
Theatrical touches include a palm reader on weekends and a velvet rope on nights when the bar is at capacity. In this atmosphere, “a hundred percent of people told us this was crazy before we started,” said Mr. Nazarian. Crazy maybe, but crazy and successful. Natalie Portman and Salma Hayek are regulars, and David Beckham was there on a recent Sunday night.