It’s set to be a huge year for Toronto-based Chase Hospitality Group (CHG). Late last year, the company announced two new partnerships that will see it expand, not only beyond Toronto, but beyond Canada in 2018 — nearly doubling its restaurant portfolio in the process.
The first of these announcements detailed plans for a U.S. outpost of the company’s 100-per-cent plant-based concept, Planta. The new location will open in Miami Beach, Fla. through a partnership with Miami-based hospitality entrepreneur David Grutman, who owns night-life venues, is a partner in Komodo eatery and lounge and recently opened OTL restaurant in Miami.
“We’ve always been a good friend of Dave’s. We have tremendously admired his talent and ability to really market both himself and the experiences that he represents,” says Steven Salm, president, CHG. “He completely fell in love with our Planta brand and experience as well, so it was a great opportunity to leverage that and partner together.”
Planta’s Miami location, which is set to open early this year, will be CHG’s first U.S. location. Salm explains the company had been exploring options for U.S. expansion prior to partnership discussions with Grutman, which solidified the location choice. “Having local presence and being super confident in the marketplace is really important for us,” he says. “Having Dave as our partner was an amazing opportunity and, really, the only option we would consider because he brings such tremendous value to validate and support the brand [in that market].”
The 200-seat restaurant will be designed by the team behind the original Planta location — Toronto-based East Studio — but will be “a much more tropical version of Planta in Toronto, [with] lots of great textures and materials,” notes Salm.
The new restaurant will also include features unique to the outpost, such as a rooftop “farm” and a plant-based sushi bar. As with the original location, “everything will be under chef David Lee’s leadership, but we will absolutely be engaging a sushi chef for this restaurant,” Salm adds.
When asked why this was an opportune time to expand beyond Canada, Salm says “I’m not sure there ever is a good time. With what’s going on in the various cities, we saw it as a good time to begin telling our story to different markets. We have obviously settled in within the Ontario and Toronto market and now we are focused on the U.S. a little bit more — just to appeal to a larger audience.”
Planta’s Miami opening is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CHG’s 2018 expansion plans, thanks to a new, first-of-its-kind partnership with Holt Renfrew. The partnership, which was announced in mid-December 2017, will see CHG’s Colette Grand Café concept replace Holts Café locations in Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver, as well as Toronto’s Yorkdale and Bloor Street locations.
“It’s been a great learning and discovery relationship,” Salm says of the partnership. “First and foremost, we had to ensure the companies’ cultures and visions were aligned to craft such a unique partnership. We are very excited to work together.”
The original Colette Grand Café location, which opened in 2014, is a French-inspired restaurant located in Toronto’s Thompson Hotel. The restaurant features a dining room, library and lounge, as well as a bakery-café.
Salm notes the Holt Renfrew locations “will feature both quick and coursed-meal options, catering to all clientele. The menu will be seasonal, with unique features for each region to suit local tastes.”
As part of the partnership, the teams from each of the Holts Cafés set to be replaced are expected to transition through the rebranding of the restaurants, which is expected to begin early this year. The design details for the Colette outposts are yet to be finalized, but further details are expected to be released in the coming weeks.