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Dani García at Alelí, an Italian cuisine concept that will close in Marbella and open in Budapest. Grupo DG
Venture capital fund buys into group headed by Marbella's Michelin-starred chef Dani García, which is closing two restaurants on the Costa del Sol
Food and drink

Venture capital fund buys into group headed by Marbella's Michelin-starred chef Dani García, which is closing two restaurants on the Costa del Sol

Kharis has purchased a 44-million-euro stake in the company, which currently has 20 restaurants spread across six countries

Marina Martínez

Marbella

Wednesday, 17 April 2024, 17:13

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They had been hovering around for a while. So it was only a matter of time before Grupo Dani García opened the door to an investment fund. And so it has happened after Belgian venture capital fund Kharis bought into the company with a stake of 44 million euros.

This macro-operation, unprecedented in the national gastronomic scene, will give rise to a new business model for the group, in which Dani García and siblings Laura and Javier Gutiérrez continue to be the majority shareholders.

"We received many offers, but in this one we have seen connection, commitment and experience that can help us to continue growing," said the Michelin-starred chef from Marbella. García pointed out the new move will allow them to "accelerate and professionalise" the national and international expansion with the opening of premises with their own investment, as opposed to the formula they had followed until now, based on agreements with local operators, mainly hotels. However, they will still continue to operate in this way.

In total, the Dani García group now has 20 restaurants in six countries: BiBo (Marbella, Tarifa, Madrid, Doha and London), Lobito de Mar (Marbella, Madrid, La Finca and Doha), Leña (Marbella, Madrid and Dubai), Tragabuches (Marbella and Madrid), Dani Brasserie (Four Seasons Hotel Madrid), Smoked Room (Madrid and Dubai), Casa Dani and El Pollo Verde (New York), La Cabane (Marbella) and La Chambre Bleue (Paris). In addition to the cocktail bar El Coleccionista, in BiBo Madrid. The business involves more than 1,200 employees and achieves an annual turnover of more than 60 million euros.

Tragabuches Madrid, one of the latest openings of Grupo Dani García.
Tragabuches Madrid, one of the latest openings of Grupo Dani García.

But amid the dizzying figures, there have also been some closures such as the Alelí and Kemuri restaurants, serving Italian and Japanese cuisine respectively - they're saying goodbye to the Puente Romano hotel in Marbella just two years after their opening. "I feel sorry for them because they are concepts I still believe in, but if something doesn't work and is not profitable, the best decision you can take is to close. Marbella is our test bed, there are things we like and they work out, and others we don't and we do without them. But we are a big company and we have the financial muscle to do it," the chef said.

"In reality, the Alelí and Kemuri projects haven't gone badly at all, the basic problem has been the high rent, that and the fact that in three months you can't open three restaurants in a place like Marbella. We believe it has the capacity, but as in many cities and towns there are pros and cons," added Dani García, referring to a third setback: Babette, a concept of French cuisine that he changed to BiBo the same year he opened Alelí and Kemuri, but which he discarded the following year to bring back BiBo. They were not the only restaurants to open in 2022 in the Costa del Sol town. In addition, Tragabuches was opened.

"There's no need to be ashamed, if something doesn't work, you accept it and that's it", says the chef from Marbella

In any case, the chef from Marbella will continue to be committed to his hometown. So much so that he is considering returning to haute cuisine there. For the moment, Alelí's experience has not fallen on deaf ears. In less than a month he will open this concept of Italian cuisine in Budapest, where BiBo will also open at the end of the year. "There is no need to be ashamed if something doesn't work, you accept it and that's it, you don't have to hide," García said.

Home delivery food line

Another setback has been that of La Gran Familia Mediterránea, a home-delivery food line Grupo Dani García Group created in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic under the management of Rima Gastronómica, a company recently declared bankrupt. "It was going well but the delivery business stagnated and the capital increase was complicated," said García, who is now "very motivated" following Kharis' investment. In fact, Las Vegas, New York, London and Paris are some of the cities in his sights to continue growing independently. It's something he already did last December in Dubai, with the opening of Leña and Smoked Room. Those two restaurants will also open in Miami at the end of the year, where work has already started.

Smoked Room Madrid, with two Michelin stars.
Smoked Room Madrid, with two Michelin stars. Grupo DG

García considers Leña and Smoked Room "very exportable" brands. Smoked Room created headlines for him after it achieved two Michelin stars in less than six months following its opening in Madrid in June 2021. And all just two years after he closed his three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Puente Romano and said goodbye to haute cuisine: "I came back as a group and as I said I would one day: with a small space for a small number of diners. I don't regret having taken this direction, I'm enjoying it very much, although I don't forget that other time, without which we wouldn't be what we are today".

Grupo Dani García Group still has a long way to go. In a year's time, it plans to open a dozen restaurants. Among them, Leña Barcelona, in the Grand Hyatt, in addition to Mallorca, Valencia, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Their international consolidation was one of the keys that convinced Kharis to approach them.

Not surprisingly, the Belgian venture capital fund has stakes in companies such as the German seafood company Nordsee, the Belgian Quick chain and the French O'Tacos. Now, it is entering Spain for the first time through the Dani García Group, which just last week celebrated the tenth anniversary of BiBo Marbella, the first of many.

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