A decade ago, Dani Garcia thought about leaving the kitchen. His New York restaurant went bad, his La Moraga brand ended up in court and the relationship with the Marbella-based Meliá Don Pepe went awry. “I felt bad. I didn’t care if I moved from a teller or restocking agent to a supermarket,” he recalls. That was the second thing he thought of when, at the end of 2018, he was awarded his third Michelin star at the restaurant that bears his name. The first thing that crossed his mind was to shut it down, as he did months later. In the fall of 2019, Marbellian descended from the throne of haute cuisine to dedicate himself to something much broader: gastronomy. He did this with businessman Javier Gutierrez, with whom he now leads, in tandem, the Dani Garcia group.
“I’ve been dreaming about this all my life, but the people around me have always let me down. I’ve never found anyone who understands me before,” says the chef, whose company had turnover of 25 million euros in 2020 and an operating profit (ebitda) of 800,000 euros.
The paths of García and Gutiérrez crossed in 2014, in a full emotional pit for the chef. His current partner has taken the first step by proposing a collaboration on his Volapié series. It wasn’t revealed, but Garcia told him he wanted to be with him for what it was. Just 24 hours later, they struck a deal that took its first steps in April of that year with the double opening of Bebo and Dani Garcia at Puente Romano, on the Golden Mile of Marbella. The following year, Gutiérrez sold Volapié to the Nazca Venture Capital Fund and the Dani García Group took off. Now, in full frenzy, openings are piling up in Ibiza, Madrid, London, Miami, New York, Saudi Arabia and Paris, with an extensive network of home delivery kitchens deployed under the La Gran Familia Mediterránea brand with Kfund as an investor. By 2021, they expect to reach 40 million in revenue – with four million in profits – and in 2022 to overcome the billing barrier of 100 million – and 10 million in profits. “We can be one of the largest food and beverage (F&B) management platforms in the world. We have the brand, the knowledge, the team and the funding. With ambition if we don’t succeed, we will feel like we have failed,” says Javier Gutierrez, Group CEO.
Tandem works. Dani Garcia is the creator, his job is to think. “I am dedicated to creating the brand, what it should be, its mission, and the techniques to use. The chef says my most important work ends when restaurants open. Javier Gutiérrez is responsible for numbers, management, logistics and staffing. Both speak the same language. Says the entrepreneur, who Formed between Germany and the US, and working in the real estate sector, he says he’s obsessed with watching his team grow – whether it’s the opening team, the finance team, or the sales team. big data-. He likes his members to take on more responsibility and they don’t want to leave the group. “I hate going out,” he says. “Except when necessary,” he adds.
What they need in the medium term are hundreds of chefs, although one of their most famous engagements is Sandra Manresa, who came from Google to develop the AI strategy for La Gran Familia Mediterránea, a project of Connecting (Food Delivery) Developed during booking and planned years ago. There are already 10 kitchens between Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga and Marbella, with service including pasta, sandwiches, sushi, salads or cocktails. The goal is to have 20 kitchens by the end of the year and 60 by 2022, with presence in all Spanish cities with a population of over 100,000. They have also reached an agreement with Sam Nazarian’s C3 business group to open another 150 kitchens in the next five years in the US, while also considering the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Latin America. Actual restaurants will act as spear commander and then provide all the artillery.
They ensure that they receive calls every week to open restaurants around the world. It’s very selective, but in 2021 the slots are piling up. Bibo Ibiza arrived in May, in June Leña arrived at the Hesperia Hotel in Madrid (where Santceloni’s restaurant was located) and in July Bibo also arrived at the new Mondrian Shoreditch Hotel in London, owned by the Robin brothers, one of Britain’s greatest fortunes. In August, the role of El Pollo Verde and Casa Dani will take place in New York with the support of C3, and at the end of the summer will come the sea lion on an area of 800 square meters in Kempinski Doha (Qatar). Then come two Accor openings in Miami at the SLS Brickell Hotel and three in Saudi Arabia, with four more to open in 2022. Next spring they land at the Maison Delano in Paris. The list is endless.
“We have a good structure,” summarizes Gutierrez, who believes they will likely have over 2,000 employees over the next year, three times the current number of 700. “I look back and I never thought I’d be here in seven years. Now we want to play in major leagues,” adds the entrepreneur, who believes that within five years they will be able to reach 300 million in turnover. It’s generating more pressure than the three stars, but frankly, we’re doing really well,” says Dani Garcia. “Today he’s not thinking of throwing in the towel, just leading a gastronomic revolution still in “Soon we will announce things that no one in the world has done,” warns the chef.