Restaurant group enters next phase of expansion with investment from KSL affiliate
AUSTIN, Texas – November 9, 2020 – Leading Austin-based, James Beard Award-winning restaurant group Hai Hospitality today announced that an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners has made a substantial investment in the company. This investment will enable Hai Hospitality to accelerate the growth and expansion of their acclaimed restaurant brands and continue to elevate the guest experience. The Hai Hospitality leadership team, including Founding Chef and Partner Tyson Cole, will remain at the helm. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"We opened Uchi Austin in 2003 with a unique and modern approach to Japanese food," said Cole. "It's amazing to see our evolution and the growth of a culture and team so dedicated to offering incredible experiences for our guests every day. I'm excited for KSL's investment and to continue bringing the magic of Hai’s concepts to new markets across the U.S."
The team at KSL have been long-time admirers of the Hai team and culture and its restaurant concepts. "Hai’s extreme attentiveness to the guest experience, exacting attention to culinary and design detail, as well as their focus on people, culture, and community is unmatched in the industry," said Chris Chang, Principal at KSL Capital Partners.
Hai's first restaurant Uchi, which opened in 2003, quickly earned recognition with Cole’s selection as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best Chefs” in 2005. Chef Cole's signature, non-traditional take on Japanese food and the rising popularity of Uchi and sister restaurant, Uchiko, continued to receive accolades, with a designation by Bon Appetit as one of “the 20 Most Important Restaurants in America,” and the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef Southwest Award" in 2011.
Since the opening of the first location in Austin, five additional Uchi-branded restaurants have opened: Uchiko Austin (2010), Uchi Houston (2012), Uchi Dallas (2015), Uchiba Dallas (2016), and Uchi Denver (2018).
Hai also launched LORO Asian Smokehouse & Bar in 2018, in partnership with Aaron Franklin, a James Beard Award-winning chef and the founder of Franklin Barbecue. Loro is a relaxed, counter-style restaurant combining techniques from Texas barbecue and bold flavors from Southeast Asia to create a unique dining experience that consistently delights a huge base of enthusiastic fans.
"We couldn't imagine a better partner than KSL for growing our restaurant brands and continuing to foster Hai Hospitality’s culture," said Hai Chief Executive Officer Tony Montero. “Hai’s mission to continue elevating the guest experience through innovative food, exceptional service, and thoughtful design aligns perfectly with KSL's long history of building differentiated, experiential hospitality brands that are committed to people and community impact."
"We feel privileged to partner with a team with such a strong operational foundation and look forward to helping grow Uchi and Loro in new and existing markets," said John Ege, Partner at KSL Capital Partners.
About Hai Hospitality
Hai Hospitality is an award-winning restaurant group based in Austin, Texas that began with Uchi, Japanese for ‘home’, and so named for the little red house where Chef Tyson Cole first created his nontraditional take on elevated Japanese cuisine in 2003. Hai Hospitality concepts now include Uchi Austin, Uchi Dallas, Uchi Houston, Uchi Denver, Uchiko Austin, Uchibā Dallas, and LORO Asian Smokehouse and Bar. Hai Hospitality gives each of their restaurants the space to create and cultivate their own identities and supports them in a variety of capacities so that each location has the freedom to grow while still being part of the bigger family—a family that has a common set of core values; a shared vision for food, service, and design; and a collective pool of knowledge and expertise to draw upon no matter where they call home.
About KSL Capital Partners
KSL Capital Partners, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate, and travel services. KSL has offices in Denver, Colorado; Stamford, Connecticut; and London. Since 2005, KSL has raised approximately $13 billion of capital across both debt and equity funds. KSL's current portfolio includes some of the premier properties in travel and leisure. For more information, please visit www.kslcapital.com.