Jonathan Segal of The ONE Group: “Successful hoteliers don’t do F&B”

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jonathan Segal believes a hotel's F&B operation is best run by an outside company
Jonathan Segal believes a hotel's F&B operation is best run by an outside company

Related tags: Hotel

Hotel operators should leave food and beverage (F&B) operations to outside contractors and focus on filling rooms to boost profits, says The ONE Group CEO Jonathan Segal.

Segal, who has been CEO of the global F&B company and restaurant operator since he set it up in 2004, believes that the best way to boost both room and F&B sales within a hotel is by not trying to do it all.

“Hoteliers are happy to have F&B contractors because they know they don’t do F&B well and they don’t want to do it,” he told BigHospitality.

“They don’t want to be making margaritas and serving steaks, they want to be focusing on filling rooms.

“Having an outside company operating your F&B adds value to the experience while letting you get on with your core business.”

Segal, who comes from a family of hoteliers, said hotels housing sought-after destination bars and restaurants like The ONE Group’s Radio Rooftop bar or restaurants like STK and Cucina Asellina (all at ME London) had a stronger proposition than those with a 'bland restaurant brand' created in-house.

“If we can operate a strong branded restaurant or bar in their property it helps hoteliers increase their Average Day Rate, because guests know that by staying at that hotel they can get a booking in one of those places. It’s good for everyone,” he said.

Expansion

British-born Segal, who established the business in the US before bringing it to the UK, said The ONE Group was looking to work with more hotel companies, typically those with four star properties, to install both existing restaurant brands and new ones.

In the UK the company currently runs the entire F&B service at ME London, from its restaurant concepts STK and Cucina Asellina and bars Radio Rooftop and Marconi to breakfast and room service. It even stocks the bedrooms’ mini-bars.

Brands are a mixture of The ONE Group’s own-branded restaurants, such as STK or created specifically for a certain business. The Radio Rooftop bar is a brand that is owned by ME London operator Melia Hotels, for example, but executed and operated by The ONE Group.

“I compare the ONE Group to the technology company Intel,” he said. “Intel chips are in pretty much every computer, whether it’s a Dell, Samsung or HP, but each one is just a bit different. The ONE Group is the same, it’s in competing brands, but we’ll make our business unique to the hotel or casino we’re operating in.”

The UK is a key market earmarked for expansion, Segal told BigHospitality with sites in the city and Knightsbridge being considered for its premium steakhouse restaurant brand STK.

Sites in London, Manchester and Edinburgh are also being looked at for STK Rebel, the smaller, cheaper steakhouse brand the company is about to launch in the US. 

“London is a unique city for us, the only other city we have more than one STK in is New York and they have been very successful," Segal said. "The UK is a really important market for us and I think there is space for three or four, whether that's solely STK or a mixture of STK and Rebel STK."

New brands

Segal said the UK could also see sushi restaurant brand Katsuya and Mediterranean fish restaurant brand Cleo - both acquired earlier this month by The ONE Group in a $75m deal - opening. 

"It was a transformative deal," he said. "We say that Katsuya is to sushi what STK is steak and Cleo is to Mediterranean. Like STK and STK Rebel Katsuya and Cleo are expandable brands and I can see the four brands working well alongside each other. They could work well in hotels, but also as standalone units."  

Segal said the new brands would also be expanded further into the Middle East with their existing presence there used as a base to help launch STK and STK Rebel into that market. 

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