Trader Vic’s names new big kahuna

SAN FRANCISCO Trader Vic’s, in its ongoing effort to reinvigorate the 70-year-old brand, has named a business-development specialist from Australia as its new president and chief executive.

Robert Davies joins the Polynesian-themed dinnerhouse chain from the Australian Trade Commission, where he was responsible for increasing wine imports to the United States. “His 20 years of international culinary, hospitality and management expertise will be instrumental to the continued growth of our chain both here and around the world,” said Charles Hufford, chairman of franchisor Trader Vic’s Inc. here.

Davies succeeds Hans Richter, who was promoted to vice chairman of global affairs.

The appointment follows the completion of a deal with United Airlines to serve Trader Vic’s-branded meals and drinks aboard flights to and from Hawaii. The chain recently opened three restaurants in the United States and one in Shanghai , China, with a fifth to open on Feb. 28 in Dallas. Five outlets will open elsewhere in the world during 2007, and a variation called Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Bar will debut in April in Dubai, the company said.

Worldwide, 24 Trader Vic's outlets are currently in operation, including eight within the United States.