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Vongerichten to roll out Spice Markets

NEW YORK Local fine-dining stars Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Phil Suarez plan to go global next year with their popular Spice Market restaurant.

Suarez, who is partnered with Vongerichten in the 20-plus unit Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, said the pair plans to open at least four new Spice Market outlets in 2008 in such locations as Istanbul, Atlanta, Miami, Dubai or Barcelona.

The high-end concept specializes in the street food of Southeast Asia. The original Manhattan Spice Market, which is located in New York’s trendy Meatpacking district, encompasses about 13,500 square feet of space and generates some $15 million annually on a per-person check average of $60.

While some of the new locations are expected to be as large as the New York prototype, Suarez said they would range in size from 6,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet. The Istanbul outlet is expected to be about 7,000 square feet.

In 2006 the partners had formed a company with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Catterton Partners, a private equity firm, to own, operate, manage and license restaurants in Starwood Properties as well as freestanding concepts not attached to the lodging company’s outlets.

Commenting on the Spice Market expansion, Suarez said: “Some will be built with our own money, some will be management deals and some will be built in partnership with hotels. We’re open to the best deal we can get.”

While Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges is focusing on the growth of Spice Market for the time being, Suarez said he and Vongerichten also plan to expand other brands. They include the top-rated Jean Georges, Vong, Perry Street and The Mercer Kitchen.

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