Hong Kong restaurateurs develop taste for takeaway shops, avoid setting up dine-in premises to cope with rising rents

By Enoch Yiu enoch.yiu@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3023613/hong-kong-restaurateurs-develop-taste-takeaway-shops-avoid-setting-dine?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | September 11, 2019 11:57 AM SGT
An increasing number of restaurateurs are choosing to set up takeaways instead of dine-in premises in Hong Kong to get past the city's expensive rents, which have topped the world for several years in a row.
The number of food factory licences, also called takeaway licences, increased 7.4 per cent year on year to 7,671 as of the end of 2018. This represents an increase of 19 per cent in three years, from 6,459 in 2015. The number of food vending machine licences rose 130 per cent year on year to 102 as of the end of 2018, compared with 58 units in 2017 and 29 in 2015, according to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
Both types of takeaway operators are growing at a faster pace than traditional dine-in restaurant licence holders, which increased by 5.6 per cent to 11,173 as of the end of 2018, up 597 from a year earlier. This represents an increase of 15 per cent in three years from 9,718 in 2015, government statistics show.
La Rotisserie, a takeaway roast chicken chain founded by Jerome Carlier, Marie Ranc and chef Aurelien Malik Benbernou, three French expatriates in Hong Kong with an initial capital of HK$4 million seven years ago, has successfully expanded into a chain of five shops in Sheung Wan, Central, Wan Chai, Sai Ying Pun and Quarry Bay.
The business raised another HK$7 million three years ago to set up a central kitchen.
The La Rotisserie takeaway shop in Hong Kong's Quarry Bay district. Photo: Edmond So alt=The La Rotisserie takeaway shop in Hong Kong's Quarry Bay district. Photo: Edmond So
"We decided to set up the shops as takeaways as we can do the largest volume of business with smaller shops than dine-in restaurants, which would need tables and chairs. We also use the central kitchen to make the food, which helps to cut down the size and staff [requirements] for kitchens at the shops," said Carlier, a former...