Umami Burger shuts first store, picks up more investors for expansion

umami.jpgThe high-end chain that's noted for its special flavor punch (many find it little more than a come-on) is getting $20 million from Fortress Investment Group in return for a minority stake, reports the Business Journal. The money will be used to open stores in Vegas, NY, Philly, Chicago, and DC. That's in addition to restaurants being planned for Burbank, Irvine, Oakland, Palo Alto, Miami, and at LAX. In 2011, SBE Entertainment Group (that's the Sam Nazarian outfit) and Nimes Capital helped pay for the company's expansion into California. Taking a local operation nationwide is fraught with risk, whether it's finding the right location or maintaining quality control. We'll see what happens here. Meanwhile, they've shut down the original La Brea Avenue location. From the Business Journal:

Umami closed its original location on La Brea when its four-year lease expired, sacrificing any sense of nostalgia for its origins in favor of opening restaurants in larger, more prominent locations. [Adam Fleischman, founder and chief executive], said the 985-square-foot restaurant, which had space to seat only 60 people and lacked a liquor license, no longer fit the company's vision for its restaurants. He hopes diners who used to eat at the original location will go to the chain's flagship that opened at the Grove in the Fairfax district late last summer and can seat 185. "I'm not really tied to any particular location," he said. "The potential is so much more exciting, the fact that maybe one day we can open in Japan and in Paris and in London."

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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