What it takes to build an F&B empire

From the death of communism: Arkady Novikov tells us how he built his global restaurant business.

Neil Churchill April 24, 2016

Naming a business after yourself is a massive risk. If it doesn’t take off or bombs altogether, it is your own name that gets dragged down with it.

That’s why the CEO of Ted Baker used a fake name. And who can blame him? Once the mud of failure gets stuck to you, it can be hard to wash clean.

That’s certainly the case in the F&B industry where reputation is everything, so it’s a brave man that puts his own name above a restaurant door. Arkady Novikov then, is brave.

Established over 20 years ago, The Arkady Novikov Group now has more than 50 F&B projects across Moscow, London, Saint-Petersburg and Dubai, including the self-branded restaurant, Novikov. Opened in August last year, Novikov Dubai with its Chinese and Asian cuisine has already become hugely popular. 

When the man himself was in town recently, we caught up with him to find out what it takes to launch and run a restaurant empire. 

From the death of communism

In 1991, people began opening restaurants in Russia as communism was dying out and there were a lot of changes. The industry was beginning to prosper. I was a chef at a restaurant at the time and at that moment I realised that I was ready to open my own restaurant.

I found an investor who put in about $50,000 to get the concept up and running and in 1992, I opened my very first restaurant, which was seafood cuisine. This was the beginning of the Arkady Novikov Group. Just like mushrooms in the forest, a little big of rain (money), and the ventures began popping up one after the other. 

Learning lessons

I am constantly learning in life. Life is always giving you lessons. You may think you know everything, but in reality you know nothing. So far in this industry I have learned that you have to be honest towards others, and most importantly, yourself.

To achieve success, you have to always be professional in what you’re doing and to respect people, which is something that goes without saying.

Avoiding failure

There are three major factors that act as the pillars for success in the F&B world; the location, the concept, and professionalism. If you don’t have a good location, concept, or professionalism that the industry requires, then you are set for failure. 

It’s all in the name

When I first opened Novikov in London, I was very worried about naming it after myself. We weren’t just taking a risk with the money invested, but also with the name. There is a saying in Russian that if you do not take risks, then you do not drink champagne. 

At the beginning, hearing people say “Novikov” was very sharp to my ear as I wasn’t use to it. Eventually, it grew on me. 

What the future holds

We want to conquer the entire peninsula and every city will hopefully have a Novikov restaurant. Let the competition be scared.

We are hopefully bringing over a very successful concept in Moscow to Dubai through the Bulldozer Group. 

Editor’s note – it is the Bulldozer Group that brought Novikov to Dubai, and also has Sass Café, Toko, VIP Room and Movida under its umbrella. So expect this new ‘successful concept’ in Moscow to be another killer here in the UAE.